Thursday, 22 September 2011

Wasted NHS Money

I have just heard two NHS related articles on the BBC news. The first was about the PFI initiatives to build hospitals. By 2049 more than £70 billion will have been spent on the construction and maintenance of buildings worth around £11 billion. The second article was about the probable scrapping of the national NHS computerised records system. By coincidence this project also cost £11 billion but there is now little confidence that the project could be delivered and trusts will use their own computer systems.

The PFI initiatives were set up to allow the private sector to help deliver public services. It sounds good but what it actually means is that public services have to pay for private support, and the private sector is not a benevolent society. Today's news is that up to sixty hospitals are on the brink of financial collapse because of these initiatives. It didn't surprise me that the private sector wanted significant reward. What did surprise me was how easily a Labour government continued with support for the private sector. It should be so simple. Government collects revenue. Trusts spend money. However it was decided that the NHS does not have the ability to follow this simple route and now we are paying the price.

As for the national computer system, I have heard that there could be a benefit if I walk into a hospital at the other end of the country and my records are available. I have never bought into this notion for many reasons. If I end up in hospital then there is a really good chance it will be my local hospital. If I do have to go to another hospital then the chances are that I will be able to speak with a doctor and tell then what is wrong with me. There are many more reasons why I was not keen on spending billions on a national computer system but I think you get the idea - decisions are being made recklessly which mean that our money is wasted and somebody should be accountable.

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