OneStat.com Web Analytics Trust People (once an Englishman in Philly): National Health Rationing System

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

National Health Rationing System

Well, the wonders of the NHS continue to astonish me. My father was recently discharged from hospital only for him to discover some days later that he should not have been discharged, the diagnosis he was given was probably wrong, the person discharging him had no authority to do so and the consultant had no idea he'd left. In fact he'd gone to see my father and found somebody different in his bed. So in clearing a bed the hospital had achieved its short-term target. Problem is it's caused them longer-term inconvenience. You really couldn't make it up.

What staggers me about the whole system is the expectation that, despite working all your life to pay your taxes, you not only have to just accept the rationing you are, apparently arbitrarily, given but there seems to be an unspoken obligation you have to be grateful for it. The single biggest problem I can identify - and I'll happily accept I'm completely inexperienced in hospital management even though I am a consumer - is that patients and users have so little power. More than anyone it is patients who have the greatest interest in ensuring they are properly and expediently treated. They may not understand medically what they need, but they certainly know what should be done and if systems aren't delivering the result they need. The NHS should be forced to take greater account of these than their arbitrary systems, so that they actually provide the "S", the service, of the NHS. Until we have real and meaningful choice so those of us who are too poor to go private can exert real best-practice pressure on the healthcare we receive, it will continue to be the National Health Rationing System. A system in which patients are mere blocks to perceived short-term efficiency.

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