Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cancer in the NHS

Patients in England suspected of suffering from cancer are to have the right to see a specialist within two weeks; and quite rightly so.

However, primary care trusts will be required to pay for private consultations if the timescale cannot be met.

There could also be financial penalties for failing to keep to the two-week limit, described at the moment as 'only a target'.

So, the underfunded, ailing NHS is given another target it has to meet. Failure will result in financial penalties, not just once but twice. Effectively the NHS will have to pay for its own demise, backdoor privatisation, and be fined to do so!

I believe the funding issue for the NHS has two root causes.

First, a significant proportion of the NHS budget pays managers and book-keepers whose focus is (financial) efficiency and cost cutting. This is not compatible with a non profit, state owned institution and is morally indefensible where healthcare is concerned.

Second, direct taxation, particularly for the wealthy has fallen significantly over the last 30 years resulting in less money to spend on the public services most of us, and in particular the poorest of us rely on. Hence the introduction of managers and book-keepers trying to cut costs but actually contributing to them through bloated salaries with no advantage to treatment.

These issues did not exist pre 1980 when hospitals were run by doctors and nurses and funding was adequate.

What the government should do is sack the managers and book-keepers and let the doctors and nurses run the hospitals on clinical grounds and direct employment of cleaners and other ancillary staff who will be directly accountable to the NHS.

This will mean more funding going to treatment rather than non-clinical staff and any shortfall should be paid for by those most able to pay, the wealthy through direct taxation.


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