Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

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Archive for the tag “hospital”

Compensation Culture & the NHS

Unfortunately the UK is well down the road to becoming a litigious society suing whenever the opportunity arises in order to achieve cash compensation for what in most cases is a genuine accident or an unintentional error on someone’s part. Probably the worst example must the NHS where something like £800million is paid out each year from a now cash strapped yet still brilliant service.

Apart from the rare as hen’s teeth rogue nurse or doctor, I think we can agree that no one in the health service actually wants to do any harm to a patient and indeed, positively wants a good outcome. In any organisation, particularly one as big as the NHS, from time to time things will go wrong, mistakes will happen and only a fool would believe that perfection is possible, although, of course, that is what should be the aim as that way lies continuing improvement.

What to do when things do go wrong? Obviously the patient must have the best possible treatment to put right, wherever possible, any damage. Where serious injury has been caused requiring long term care or even adaptations to the home or mobility needs then these are already covered by our health and social security systems at no cost to the individual. In parallel an investigation into the cause(s) of the error should be carried out with no threat of financial penalties to the establishment concerned followed by full and public disclosure of the report including what measures have been taken to improve the system.

No amount of money will take away pain or discomfort or, in extremis, loss of a limb and as stated, the State will provide all that is necessary to cope with the future. Therefore Government should pass a law making it impossible to sue the NHS for monetary reward and thereby freeing up some £800million each year to improve the health service including accident prevention.

On a final note it may seem that the NHS must be absolutely appalling if it pays out that much compensation annually. In reality it pays out in many cases ‘without admitting liability’ rather than face huge costs and time fighting in the courts defending actions brought hoards of unscrupulous lawyers only too happy to scrounge off society.

More Health Privatisation

Here we go again, more privatisation of the NHS on the way. This time it’s the Ambulance service, with plans to put the non emergency sector out to tender. This means for example collecting infirm patients from their homes and taking them to hospital for treatment or to see a specialist.

British AmbulanceThe usual argument is put up of getting value for money. Yes, at least in the first instance, a private company will offer to do the job more cheaply but does this mean value for money? I think not. All drivers and co-drivers currently doing the job are trained ambulance people with experience and a huge fund of knowledge to draw upon from their colleagues in case of a problem. Let’s not forget that a lot of the people requiring this service have complicated medical problems even though they can live at home.

Ambulance drivers and paramedics are an integral part of the NHS, a service which up until recently at least, existed purely for the benefit of society as a whole and not for the benefit of the shareholders of private companies. Privatising (= selling off) this important part of the ambulance service puts at risk the comradeship and shared knowledge of the teams and destroy the sense of purpose and caring that currently exists. Some things you just can’t value in monetary terms.

NHS Privatisation

freethinkeruk recently made a hospital booking for a minor medical procedure at my local community hospital. I used the new on-line book it yourself system which seemed OK until I received the inevitable paper confirmation in the post subject to me returning a paper form and the hospital’s receipt of my GP’s written confirmation. What on Earth is the point of a computerised system that requires paper confirmation every step of the way? What a waste of money! By the way GPs do have a choice whether to use the new system or not but they do get an inducement of around 70p per booking if they do. What!

Anyway, to my main point. When I got the paperwork I discovered not just the NHS logo on the header but also one of ‘Ramsey Health Care’ which on investigation turns out to be an Australian Private hospital group that has been given a contract with the NHS to carry out 95,000 procedures. It’s a ‘no brainer’ to realise that ‘Private + Contract = Profit = money lost from the NHS’. Obviously this loss makes it all the harder for NHS hospitals to improve their service and hence the easier it for politicians to say we need more private involvement. Over time this in turn will lead to the demise of our beloved NHS, the service that came in after the war despite fierce opposition and has been improving our lives ever since. We can shrug our shoulders saying ‘what can we do?’ or stand up and fight every inch of the way to keep, maintain and improve this precious resource that still, just, belongs to each and every one of us.

By the way, in case you wonder what freethinkeruk did, he cancelled the appointment and is demanding treatment in a genuine NHS hospital rather than letting the cost associated with his treatment fall into private hands. A small protest yes, but if we all did it?…………….

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