Sunday, 12 August 2012

Hospitals or Supermarkets?

The collective principle asserts that... no society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means (Aneurin Bevan on the NHS, 1952).

Doesn’t it follow that if people are pursuing healthier and safer lifestyles they will suffer fewer illnesses and accidents, therefore putting less demand on our National Health Service?  Does it not follow that if there were fewer demands on our NHS, medical staff would have more time and recourses to devote to those people who do have the misfortune to fall ill or suffer injury? 
And wouldn’t all of this be a good thing?
Apparently not!
At the time of the 1997 general election, the Conservative Government boasted that while they had been in power more people had been using the NHS than ever before.  And not long ago, one of the managers of a hospital rejoiced in the fact that since the adoption of a public-private initiative, the number of people attending the hospital had risen by 8%.
Recently I was reading a reader’s letter in the Rossendale Free Press (3.8.12), the local newspaper where I was born and brought up (and which I still have delivered, mainly to read the obituaries).  There had been concern that some people were unaware that a medical injuries unit had been opened in April 2012 in their locality.  The unit provides treatment for common minor injuries such as scalds, burns, stings, bites, and suspected broken bones.  The letter was from from Ms Susan Warburton, Head of Community Services, NHS East Lancashire, and brings us some good news.  The number of people being treated at the unit has been steadily increasing and is exceeding all expectation.  ‘I am delighted with the success of the unit’, she announces.

I have an image in my head of an undertaker rubbing his hands on hearing the news of a massacre.  Surely the fact that more injured people are coming to the unit is a cause for concern rather than delight?  Shouldn’t the course of action be to urge greater safety on the part of the public and to encourage them to keep their own first-aid facilities to hand in case they need them?  My own experience of being bitten, stung or burnt (in a minor way) is that I am perfectly capable of taking the right course of action myself without bothering the medical profession.  

Surely, adopting the above advice could result in fewer people having to attend the clinic and then the NHS would save money because they wouldn’t need so many staff …….. ah! … ahem! …. yes … I see!
Sick people attending NHS clinics and hospitals are no longer patients (i.e. ‘suffering’); they are ‘service users’, ‘consumers’ or ‘customers’ and success is judged by how many there are.  Is our health service now thus part of the service industry and isn’t one of its major purposes to provide jobs for people and ensure that they hold on to their jobs?

1 comment:

  1. NHS should operate as a non-profit organisation working in the greater benefit of the general public. It should act more vigilantly and responsibility towards people. The Responsible Officer GMC revalidation is appointed to keep the check on the activities and clinical practice of the doctors.

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