NHS failings due to "ill thought-out Government policies"
07 Mar 2007 - JG
Rather like yesterday's post about Gordon Brown and the Treasury, the attacks I am giving the NHS at the moment aren't borne out of partisan views or a fundamental opposition to the idea of free health. I believe it is very important that access for all to an efficient and effective health system is one of the most important aspects of a civilised and modern society. However, the days when the public purse can pay for the NHS alone and we can trust the Government (be it Labour or Tory) to manage and run the service efficiently and effectively are clearly over. The damage being done by refusing to enter real debate and worrying about a complete overhaul is far worse than the alternatives. And it's not just me or a few that think this, it is a view backed up by those who really know - those doctors and nurses who have to put up with a substandard environment every day.
Senior hospital consultants lay the blame for poor patient care on "-ill thought-out Government policies-". Four out of five leading consultants questioned by the British Medical Association said their initiatives had been hampered, including a pioneering treatment for prostate cancer and a test for Down's syndrome. Patricia Hewitt says that overall the NHS will be in financial balance at the end of this month but 132 trusts are expected to overspend by a total of £1.3 billion in the current year, according to estimates. These two "-facts-" do not seem to tally up to me.
It is this government target driven culture and the headline grabbing figures that the NHS books are balanced that is doing all the trouble. A survey last month found that half of NHS hospitals in England were delaying operations in order to save money. Two thirds said planned services had been abandoned or delayed and more than half (56 per cent) said they or their colleagues knew that effective treatments were no longer available or had been restricted. This is a pretty damning verdict on the state of the NHS - in order to provide free for all health care we being forced in to a substandard and possibly dangerous service.
Dr Jonathan Fielden, the chairman of the BMA's consultants' committee has claimed that "-many doctors feel unable to speak out. There is a culture of fear in the NHS. Doctors are under severe pressure to meet targets and keep their mouths shut-." What kind of health service needs doctors that are scared to speak out? It sounds almost Orwellian. He added "-Plans to increase recruitment or buy new equipment are being put on hold or abandoned because of a lack of money-." This is deeply worrying and what stronger argument do you need for an open debate, without the spin, about the future of the NHS. The first step takes a brave senior politician to stand up and admit it's not working. As earlier posts have pointed out, to offer any alternative to the current system at the moment is, for some reason, deemed worse than treason but unfortunately the current system only breeds failure and unsatisfactory services.