Time-wasting exercise?

Brace yourselves!

Yet another plan is beng hatched by the gurus in the Dept. Health  determined to undermine any slight improvements hard-working NHS staff have managed to sort out.  They just can’t leave well alone, but are about to announce their master plan for the next 10 years of the NHS.

It’s no use groaning, or pointing out that they haven’t supplied the ‘goodies’ promised in the last umpteen plans. How do you think the NHS Admin justify their vast salaries? It’s by telling us that they know things are bad, but Hey !  They are coming up with a wonderful new plan – and as this is being put in front of politicians who wouldn’t know one end of a crutch from another, they get away with it.

So what is the latest ploy?

The government has announced increases in NHS funding over five years, beginning in 2019/20, and has asked the NHS to come up with a 10-year plan for how this funding will be used.

After eight years of austerity, growing financial and service pressures within the NHS and the damaging and distracting changes brought about by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, the King’s Fund says there is now an opportunity to tackle the issues that matter most to patients and communities and to improve health and care.

But is anyone listening to the very people who will be concerned?  Patients?  The answer is a resouning NO.  Even though many of the plans may be based on a King’s Fund report on NHS funding, where the late Sir Derek Wanless argued that the public needed to be ‘fully engaged’ in taking responsibility for their health and wellbeing if the NHS was to be sustained as universal, comprehensive and free at the point of use service.

Look at current problems in the NHS;  many are the result of obesity, drunkeness, lack of exercise etc.  Many resulting In cuts to services (e.g. selling off school playing fields and public tennis courts), resulting in the public neglecting its health and not doing anything to change bad habits.  It seems we bumble along, apathetically accepting the worst health service in Europe, because it is too much trouble to tackle the Administration that causes the cuts.

We could do something about improving our health.  

The King’s Fund says “growing concerns about risk factors such as being overweight or obese, and the rising prevalence of diabetes and other long-term conditions suggest that much more needs to be done to achieve the level of engagement advocated by Wanless. The NHS must play its part in giving higher priority to prevention, and the government has a role through legislation, taxation and regulation”  But surely we can also play our part by eating more healthily, exercising, frowning on drunkeness,  etc?  It’s not rocket science.

We could do more about Ambulance services and failure to attend appointments  

Anecdotal evidence of the inappropriate use of ambulance services and failure to attend appointments are often cited as examples of patients not always using services responsibly. A recent reality TV programme showed an Ambulance crew being stoned when attending a patient – what kind of community allows that?

The other side of the coin, of course, is patients having their appointments and operations cancelled at short notice because of pressure on overstretched services and having to wait longer than they would wish for diagnosis and treatment.

What happens now is often a badly-trained transport call handler makes an arbitrary decision which can deny a genuine patient transport, yet allow it for someone who knows how to play the system.  I have learnt NOT to try and be helpful, but in my area the trigger that allows transport is to say you need a wheelchair when you arrive, and overlooks the fact that I will shuffle along holding on to a rail, and am happy to take 20 minutes to get to Outpatients, if it means an ambulance can go off to collect another patient.  So I now ask for a wheelchair on arrival, even though it is going to mean the driver is delayed whilst they wheel me to the appointment. Otherwise I risk my transport not turning up – and when I phone to ask what’s happened, an officious voice tells me “you don’t qualify; you can walk so you can use public transport”.

Simple Solution:  if a patient qualifies for hospital transport no call handler is allowed to over-rule this =  fewer missed appointments.

Paying more 

This is an old chestnut.  Around two-thirds of people say they would be willing to contribute more in taxes to maintain the level of spending needed in the NHS. The political system currently seems incapable of responding to this preference, suggesting that the share of health care spending funded by the government may have reached a limit and that individuals may be required to contribute more out of their own pockets in future.

Currently the public has no say in the matter, just puts up with more and more delays and cuts to services. And no politician wants to be brave, face reality and say it is impossible to provide a modern-day health service on peanuts.

Yet what often happens is a private provider will come in, offer an NHS hospital a service at a cheaper rate.  No-one with any knowledge looks into the contract, so something vital – but costly – is missed out, and patients don’t get the service they did when the NHS provided the service.

Simple Solution:  before accepting any contract from an outside provider (i.e.non-NHS) hospitals have to get a panel of patients to check this over – currrently contracts are scrutinised by a hospital’s volunteer committee  or staff with no expertise.  And having seen some private provider contracts, they are brilliantly worded to pull the wool over amateur eyes.

It all boils down to making use of Patients’ expertise.  It is in our interest to have a properly functioning hospital.  If we have run a company we are used to sussing out what works, know the companies and can easily identify where a private company is running sheep over Administrators’ faces -so MAKE USE OF US.  We’ll save you money!  But you have to ask us first, not fob us off when we come to you to try and help.

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