Thursday, 30 April 2009

How Government Shafted The NHS


What’s Europe to do with us? It’s something I’ve sometimes wondered when the latest stupid story hits the news. It’s a constant refrain of “stupid foreigners doing stupid things”. But then, we’re pretty good at doing stupid things here in the UK and maybe we don’t always do things better than the Europeans.

There’s been a new phenomena created in British politics over the last decade, the cult of the “expert”. Time after time we’ve seen politicians hand over control of state institutions to experts in their field, conveniently absolving themselves of any responsibility. Ever wonder why we never see a Minister resign when something goes wrong? It’s because they’ve shifted the responsibility onto somebody else, somebody the public can’t touch.

Well, I’ve got news for these shirkers – that’s what we bloody elect you for! You’re supposed to take control. You’re supposed to influence whatever department you’ve got engraved on your solid gold nameplate. You’re supposed to stop them screwing up monumentally. You’re supposed to shoulder some responsibility. The buck stops with you, not your bank account.

I don’t mind somebody making a mistake. We’ve all done it. I get a bit annoyed if they make the same mistake twice and I get foot-through-the-telly annoyed when someone makes mistake after mistake and then pops up to spout the most amazing drivel.

Take Patricia Hewitt when she was Health Secretary. She presided over the formation of umpteen quangos staffed by “experts”. These quangos proved themselves to be experts all right; experts at making their staffs bigger and spending millions of pounds. Because they siphoned off so much money from the NHS Budget to spend on fancy offices and chairs so luxuriantly padded that even a princess’s arse would never notice a pea, they had to cut beds. Pesky things hospital beds. Sick people keep climbing in them and demanding costly things like bedpans and aspirin. Would you believe the fragrant Patricia announced in 2007 that “fewer beds are a sign of success – not of failure”.

Mind you, you’d have to be mad or desperate to get into an NHS bed these days. In 2007-8 the NHS had a budget of £95 billion. Labour poured money into it like Domestos down a transport café’s lav and we all saw the result. Welcome Desks appeared in plush new receptions to meet and greet clients. Paint was sloshed around to make the inside of hospitals look like Disney on LSD. Carpets replaced tiles and hundreds of smart young executives were sent marching around corridors carrying clipboards and sneering at nurses. All visible signs of YOUR money being well spent.

Except, it wasn’t being well spent. All those “experts” building empires in quangos must have been a tad disconcerted at the figures coming back to them. No doubt memos were fired off and hasty conferences arranged in Barbados.

Because 34,000 people a year are dying in NHS hospitals unnecessarily. That’s 100 a day. And another 25,000 are left permanently disabled after encountering our NHS. To put that in perspective, 36,000 people died in Iraq in 2006 – in the middle of a civil war. An International study put the UK last out of 19 countries when it comes to patients dying when they could have been successfully treated. In fact, it’s estimated that of the 200,000 people who die from cancer or strokes each year, 30,000 would have survived in a European hospital.

I could go on and talk about C-Diff and MRSA, but you get my drift.

Nah, sod it, I will go on. In the UK someone catches MRSA or C Diff every 10 minutes and someone dies from one of them every 80 minutes. Every single day of the year. 6500 people a year die in NHS hospitals because of these infections that they caught in hospital. In European countries the figure is just 100 a year. Maybe there is something we can learn from Europe?

In 1997, in their manifesto, Labour promised to cut administrative spending in the NHS, “The key is to root out unnecessary administrative cost and to spend money on the right things – frontline care”. Really? We spend £722 million on health quangos every year, £425 million on ones set up by Labour since 1997!

All this has happened because Ministers shuffled responsibility over to “experts” and refused to use even a smidgen of common sense to question the results. Worse, they babble bullshit at us proles and expect us to lap it up. I mean, we’ve all seen the hospitals that have been closed down or A & E’s downgrade and relocated. What’s Patricia Hewitt’s response? “Increasing sophistication of ambulances means it is now safer for patients involved in emergencies to travel longer distances to get to a hospital”

She’s having a laugh, isn’t she?

Does she think we’re stupid?

Actually, I think she does and we are bloody stupid if we keep letting them get away with it. We’re not talking about Parties telling little white lies in their manifestoes. We’re talking about them killing tens of thousands of people every year because they refuse to do the job they were put there to do.

1 comment:

  1. For goodness sake, keep that woman's name close and quiet, or the Jonah will resurrect her in a reshuffle.

    The Penguin

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