report from the Care Quality Commission reverberates around the media, and adds to the mountain of evidence of misery, that is perpetrated upon that most 'captive' of all audiences, the Hospital Patient, is it any wonder that I question the motives or naivete of those who campaign to save our NHS?
This follows on from the Royal College of Surgeons Report of only last week highlighting the appalling care meted out to patients who submit to emergency surgery, who or are admitted to A & E Departments at nights and weekends. The NHS is patently sick and cannot provide even the most basic standards of care, despite the vast sums of money extracted from the public to pay for it.
It seems that the usually 'piss poor' CQC has followed Lansley's diktat and undertaken a number of unannounced 'spot' checks on Hospitals to formulate the report and found many Hospitals sadly wanting in the care of the elderly. Well once more I say 'no shit sherlock'. I could have told you that! Well more power to them, but I have to ponder as to whether they are an adequate provider of vigilance when they continue to be the 'licenser' of Health care Providers as well as it's invigilating body. They are funded by the very organisations they presume to police, which is a clear and present danger of potential bias and lack of independence. They have hardly covered themselves with any 'glory' in the past and the body itself is peopled by many 'refugees' from the PCT's and Hospital Trusts. It is highly likely that without the Health Secretary's urging that this report would have even been compiled. So I have to thank Andrew for that, although little else.
The NHS costs the taxpayer just shy of 8% of GDP in 2009/2010 (just over £100 billion) up from its initial cost in 1949/50 of less than £500 million (£11 billion at today's prices). The greatest volume increase being some £46 billion in the 'Blair' years (1997-2008). Yet we have seen very little improvement (er.. none) in the standards of care or the safety of patients despite this vast increase in expenditure. Under staffing and 'dumbing down', yes we have seen much of that. Vast increases in the apparatchiks and their enforcers and huge increases in pay for GP's and Consultants. Intensive 'marketisation' including PFI and the ISTC's, which even though some patients have been happy with (in the main due to short stays and hotel style accommodation) , does not detract from the view that a properly organised and adequately funded public health service, should be able to do better than the 'private sector', because there is no profit margin to factor into the equation. Hip replacement in the NHS, say £6000. In the 'private sector' £6000 + profit of 25% = £7500. And of course no 'backstop' in event of an adverse incident except to rush the inconsiderate sick patient to the nearest A & E of the NHS.
'Marketisation' then is likely to do little more than bankrupt many Hospital Trusts in the 'brave new world' of the HSCB with the large cohort of 'privateers' extracting ever more from an already creaking budget. But more; the growth of 'disease mongering' in the Primary Care sector will grow at an even faster pace, driven to new heights by the involvement of 'Big Pharma' in the provision of service as well as drugs. There is an already unhealthy relationship between the drug industry and many Doctors and Clinicians as Fiona Godlee stated in her recent BMJ Editorial, citing this study from the US and Canada as evidence of 'less than honest' dealings. I would cite more but the BMJ will not dispense with the 'paywall' on many occasions, thus actually adding to the censorship of that which goes on in the world of medicine, without the knowledge of those who are ultimately paying for it!
I actually find the original NHS model of universal health care as being a fine and principled concept that I supported for many years. I do not do so now, not from any perverse hatred of that concept but that it no longer ticks any of the boxes of its founders. Since 1979 it has been guided by the politics of greed and stupidity, most largely imported from USA. It has received huge increases in funding that have been 'squandered' on flights of fancy that did nothing to improve or even alter patient outcomes. The NeoLiberals gave most of it away to private sector companies who frankly would have no more idea about 'competition' than flying to the moon! Most would not survive at all but for the largess of the taxpayer, they have no other clients! Like the Banks, they have grown fat and lazy on our money, often without having to tender for anything. Like the Banks they have given us little in return, except another bill for our offspring's to pay.
What I would like to see is a new NHS. One that fulfils its original criteria without all the bureaucracy, hypocrisy and reverence afforded to Doctors and Clinicians as if they are some sort of superhero's. There are plenty of good guys out there, they just seem to have lost the ability of shouting louder than the bad one's. Instead of talking 'ball's' they need to find some.