The crazy logic of the health service
11 May 2007 - JG
How about this for a health policy? Instead of putting patients in the more cost effective hospital, move them to the ones that are losing loads of money and cost more to run and then close down the more cost effective ones. Well that is the policy in the South East at the moment. Seriously. New hospitals built under PFI have over run so much that they are likely to be in permanent deficit. Not only that, but to close them down now would risk even bigger debts. So instead of closing them, they need to be used to their maximum capacity, meaning that the older hospitals will have to close as they will have no patients. Are you following this? Apparently there is some logic in there (!) - though it does beg the question: why were the new hospitals built when there clearly was another hospital in the vicinity doing the job already - and doing it for less money?
An answer of sorts from a consultant at Queen Mary’s said yesterday “-We are locked into a system that is inherently more expensive for no discernible benefit except that we get new hospitals now, even if the lengthy payback will bankrupt future generations-.” So we have cheaper to run hospitals closed and patients crammed in to more expensive hospitals so that they can incur less debt. The NHS paper "-The Implications of Fixed Costs and PFI Schemes for Service Redesign in SE London-" included the gem that there are already too many beds in southeast London and the excess will increase markedly over the next few years as lengths of stay shorten. So things will only get worse then? What sort of health policy is this?!