Oscar Wilde’s said a cynic was someone who “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”; could this be a comment on those running today’s NHS ?
Wilde was an expert at describing people’s foibles, and his statement describes exactly how the NHS wastes time and money on constant new initiatives and plans, without asking patients what they need. And the way that so many people were horrified when Ryanair suddenly had to cancel their flight showed that you get what you pay for – and if things go wrong, and there isn’t the money there because it’s too cheap to offer a good service, customers suffer.
Very much like BA, Ryanair, Monarch etc. whose clients searched eagerly for the lowest possible price, without thinking how it might end if costs had been cut too far. Reminds me of NHS cost-cutting on cancer diagnosis – with the inevitable result that if a symptom is malignant, it costs a fortune to treat when a diagnosis is delayed ‘to save costs’.
When something is offered at a cheap price, back-up and quality control goes out the window. So when the inevitable happened, leaving passengers stranded when an under-invested system broke, anyone can see a parallel with the the NHS.
A fellow patient sent me this spoof on Michael O’Leary, and I can see parallels with today’s NHS:
At least the pint is not cancelled ..
Spare a thought for poor ole Michael O’Leary, Chief Executive of Ryanair.
Arriving in a hotel in Manchester, he went to the bar and asked for a pint of Guinness.
The barman nodded and said, “That will be £1 please, Mr. O’Leary.”
Somewhat taken aback, O’Leary replied, “That’s very cheap,” and handed over his money.
“Well, we do try to stay ahead of the competition”, said the barman. “And we have the cheapest beer in England”.
“That is remarkable value”, Michael comments.
“I see you don’t seem to have a glass, so you’ll probably need one of ours. That will be £3 please.” (Our local hospital has no pillows for A & E trolleys – cost saving).
O’Leary scowled, but paid up.
He took his drink and walked towards a seat. “Ah, you want to sit down?” said the barman. “That’ll be an extra £2. You could have pre-booked the seat, and it would have only cost you £1.”
“I think you may be too big for the seat sir, can I ask you to sit in this frame please”.
Michael attempts to sit down but the frame is too small and when he can’t squeeze in, he complains “Nobody would fit in that little frame”. (A & E and some Outpatients now have cheapest iron chairs – on which you sit in pain for hours).
“I’m afraid if you can’t fit in the frame you’ll have to pay an extra surcharge of £4 for your seat sir”.
O’Leary swore to himself, but paid up. “I see that you have brought your laptop with you” added the barman. “And since that wasn’t pre-booked either, that will be another £3.”
O’Leary was so incensed that he walked back to the bar, slammed his drink on the counter, and yelled, “This is ridiculous, I want to speak to the manager”.
“I see you want to use the counter,” says the barman, “that will be £2 please.”
O’Leary’s face was red with rage. “Do you know who I am?”
“Of course I do Mr. O’Leary.”
“I’ve had enough! What sort of a Hotel is this? I come in for a quiet drink and you treat me like this. I insist on speaking to a manager!”
“Here is his e-mail address, or if you wish, you can contact him between 9.00 am and 9.01am every morning, Monday to Tuesday at this free phone number. Calls are free, until they are answered, then there is a talking charge of only £1 per second, or part thereof”.
“I will never use this bar again”. (Remind you of phoning your GP?)
“OK sir, but do remember, we are the only hotel in England selling pints for £1” … And the NHS says it is free – but not to those who are in such pain they can’t wait so go privately.
The NHS is ‘free at the point of delivery’ but how often do patients come to realise this means providing the cheapest service, but not necessarily the best. Or the most effective.
When will the NHS learn ?