No-one thought of outsourcing when the NHS was founded
70 years ago Matrons like the wonderful example above ruled hospitals with a benevolent rod of iron; the care provided received a well-deserved reputation around the world and no-one had ever heard of outsourcing. What was required – be it catering, pharmacy or whatever – was provided in-house.
But recently, hospitals have been told by expensive management consultants to save money, Matron has been replaced by a CEO, but no-one asks if this person is worth what they are paid. Most have no leadership skills: ask nurses who is in charge, and they haven’t a clue. The ward cleaning, catering, laundries (vital for combatting infection) and many other NHS ancillary services have been outsourced, and hospitals have gone from Matron’s superb rule to be ruled by ‘Administration’ with a tick-box mentality and not much common sense.
What a way to celebrate the NHS’s birthday
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Dept. Health celebrated the NHS’s birthday by restoring the standards and customs of hospitals back to the start 70 years ago? No more HAI (hospital acquired infections)! No hiding the lack of trained nurses by dressing everyone the same. And talking to patients rather than discussing their care in far-away MDT conferences.
What can patients do?
One only has to spend time in hospital, eating food that is trucked half way across Britain to be re-heated 24 hours later, to realise that outsourcing – from a patients’ point of view – is not a good thing.
There must be many readers who sit on various hospital committees. Now is the time for them to call a halt to all the useless discussion that goes round at meetings, and, as a patient and tax-payer, demand to know which hospital services could come back in-house.
Patients work in these industries and they know what goes on. It constantly surprises me that CEOs, sitting in their ivory towers, never walk around meeting patients – as Matron used to – so have no idea whose expertise could look at departments and suggest where savings could be made by either using a local contractor, or even bringing services back in-house.
When you think about it, the Laundry is vital to a hospital. NHS Management reports “The NHS probably uses more bed sheets than all the hotels in the UK put together and the work is, mainly, outsourced. There are just five hospitals that do their own’.
One of these doing their laundry in-house is the award winning Royal Devon and Exeter Trust. On-site they recycle water, practice heat-exchanging and have machines that take dirty sheets one end, bang, groan, hiss and spit-out pristine folded, as-new-sheets, the other.
The health and safety and infection control precautions are are good enough for NASA. It is run by the most enthusiastic, knowledgeable, committed man: John Herbert. An NHS lifer who looks like he belongs in a rock band and comes to work with the sense of vocation of the Chaplain.
According to Roy Lillie, John runs it, in Polish! He has to, that’s where his staff come from! If Brexit unravels, patients will have to bring their own sheets…
John’s laundry has a sewing shop that repairs sheets and when they come to the end of their life, turns them into pillow cases. They make fun uniforms for the paediatric teams and PJs for the kids. Fabulous!
You couldn’t outsource any of that, but if you could bottle it, we’d make a million.
Come on you businessmen
Next time a budding Lord Sugar is bed-bound in hospital, send in the Administrators to ask how they are – then give them a pen and paper and ask them to jot down where they can suggest improvements. They run their own companies, know where hidden extras can trap budgets, where savings could be made, and how to run something that pleases the buying public.
Chatting to a farmer bored out of his mind away from his farm, he told that he had tons left to rot because they were a funny shape; supermarkets wouldn’t buy them. But he had a free product ready to be turned into a tasty low-calorie snack for patients. Surely hospitals could make use of his idea to chop these and other misshapen veggies into fingers, and set up a stall in the hospital entrance offering ‘healthy snacks for patients and staff’.
He had a good idea, but no-one in the NHS was listening; administrators go on about treating obesity whilst awarding hospital contracts to fast-food chains who churn out high-calorie snacks. Weird. Mind you, anyone who saw Weasel Hunt desperate to avoid answering Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s sensible questions as he wriggled desperately away from the camera on Hugh’s programme, realises the NHS hasn’t a clue. If you agree with Hugh, then you might like to sign his letter https://www.newcastlecan.com/letter
Suggestion – Another outsourced service is often maintenance, which judging by the number of times hospital lits are out of order, doesn’t work well. So why not ask men’s surgical ward if any engineers can suggest better maintenance contracts for lifts. None of the pen-pushers has dared to work out how many man (person) hours are wasted by doctors and staff waiting for working lifts to arrive. Patients’ time doesn’t seem to count. Or better still, ask women – a lot of us run companies and might have better ideas, and they could start with Chelsea and Westminster and Charing Cross Hospitals for a start! The hours I’ve waited because the most-used notice is Out of Order!
Bringing back common sense, and providing services in-house might save money – but will the NHS listen?