Friday, June 21, 2013

NHS and death

Another day, another NHS cover-up story!

What shocks me about the latest news of a cover-up, is the way that politicians and the media express faux-surprise that these events (the failures surrounding baby deaths at Cumbria hospital) occur.

What do we expect? 

We have an organization that has gorged on ever-increasing sums of tax-payer money and whose now almost sole purpose is to ensure that it can extract ever more funding.  Patient care or more properly patient-centred care is not even on the agenda. 

The NHS has been broken for years.  The Labour party, mindful of the strong union presence within the organization, has thrown money at the NHS and have very skillfully brought the debate (or actually the lack of debate) to such a state that funding for the NHS is almost considered sacrosanct.  Even the Tories and the 'tail wagging the dog' Lib Dems took office promising to ring fence NHS spending plans and funding.

So while the army gets sent to fight wars, poorly or ill-equipped and for their troubles then face redundancies, doctors, nurses and the whole plethora of middle managers get to enjoy job protections and perks that the rest of the world can only dream of.

The Taxpayers Alliance (TPA)  recently produced a report which showed the staggeringly large amounts of money that is wasted by UK government in its various guises.  For anybody that pays taxes this is truly a frightening read.  The low-side estimated total is £120 Billion.  And that likely excludes a whole lot of other waste that the TPA highlight but don't add to the total on the grounds that they might then be double counting.  If only the government spenders were so careful and acted with such probity!

Here are just a few examples of the waste that is found just in the NHS:

  • £13 Million by London NHS Trusts on Public Relations (Source TPA and BBC)
  • £6 Million paid by a single NHS Trust to five doctors to provide 'top-up' services in the period 2007 to 2010 (Source TPA and Daily Mail)
  • £18 Million paid in gagging orders to 600 NHS officials (Source TPA and Daily Telegraph)
  • £80 Million spent on prescribing Vitamin D, much of which is overpriced - for example, £2,400 was spent on a £16 Vitamin D treatment.  (Source TPA and Daily Mail)
  • £128,383 paid to a healthcare assistant who falsely claimed the right to work.  (Source TPA and NHS Business Services Authority)
  • £1 Million - spent on luxury vehicles for Strategic health Authority employees, including Porsche Boxters (Source TPA and Daily Mail)
  • £1 Million paid as a golden goodbye to a former chief executive of the NHS Midlands and East.

Sadly, the list goes on and on.  Remember also, that these are just some of the examples that the gallant TPA (not government funded) manage to uncover through Freedom of Information requests. 

Also these include examples uncovered by the press.  The same press that Leveson and all of the political parties want to muzzle!  Draw you own conclusions as to motive.  My view is that the freedom of the press to uncover such waste, is much more important than a celebrity's right to have a blow job in public and not have the police case exposed!  I suppose it comes down to values, in the end.

Talking of values, search your news outlets and media organizations.  See if you can find any calls for the resignation of Andy Burnham (or just see if you can find Andy Burnham).  He was the minister in charge of the NHS in the last Labour government - remember?  he was the one in charge when 1,200 people died at Mid Staffs Hospital as a result of appalling levels of care being administered in 'our wonderful NHS'.   See also if you can find anything of Sir David Nicholson.  He is the head of the NHS.  He received a knighthood, presumably for his services to the Health Service (you couldn't make it up).  He was the head of the relevant Strategic Health Authority, at the time of the Mid Staff deaths.  he retains his knighthood and will leave the NHS, next year, with a rumoured £4 million pension pot.  That should give him something like £200,000 a year pension, for life!  Oh, and he will get that, even if he then, after a short break, goes and joins a health consultancy  or medical equipment provider, pharmaceutical company, etc.!

Surely the scales must be starting to drop from the eyes of the people?  Mid Staffs and Cumbria are just the tips of a very murky iceberg, I fear.   We likely won't ever know the full extent of the negligence and poor care that people receive at the hands of 'our wonderful NHS' because this 'national treasure' uses tax-payer money to buy-off potential whistle-blowers and usually settles cases of alleged mal-practise out of court and with confidentiality clauses attached.

It is surely time that the ring-fence was removed from the 'envy of the world' - which strangely no other country copies - and the  excessive fat removed.  Radical reform is required but in reality I hold out little hope of change.  It doesn't seem to matter whether it is old people in Mid Staffs or babies in Cumbria that are dying - no one in government cares enough about them to do anything.  I guess, what it comes down to is that the dead don't have a vote! 

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