Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The cost of litigiation in the NHS

Whilst indulging in some forum posting on DNUK (no you can't have a link, unless you're a registered doctor in the UK) I came across a link to a question posed in the Lords yesterday (Hansard).

NHS: Compensation and Legal Costs

Lord Steinberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the cost to the National Health Service of £175 million for compensation and legal costs as stated by the National Health Service Litigation Authority includes all outstanding cases to the end of the past financial year. [HL7454]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The NHS Litigation Authority 2005-06 accounts report expenditure of £591,586,000 on clinical and non-clinical negligence claims in the past financial year. The accounts include a provision, as at 31 March 2006, of £8,344,980,000 for all outstanding cases including an estimate for incidents that have occurred but not been reported.

Yes, you read that right.

The government have put aside £8.344 billion pounds to cover negligence claims against the NHS, both clinical and non-clinical. Doesn't say how much is put aside for non-clinical negligence though. Nor does it define what non-clinical negligence is. (Anyone fancy a Freedom of Information request there?)

Eight. Billion. Quid.

One thing that does surprise me is that no further questions were asked. Even in the current climate of rather defensive medicine (though not as bad as the USA) this figure is staggering. To put it in perspective, that would be a year's income for over 330,000 new police officers.

Yet so far, the Government (Lawd bless 'em!) have spent over £20 billion on a computer system which isn't fit for purpose and probably won't be.

God help us all...

Listening habits: the drive to work

Decisions, decisions...

  1. CD. Good music (IMHO), I can sing along without discomforting anyone else (believe me, with my voice that's important) BUT I tend to play it too loud and end up with tinnitus byt the time I get to work, I don't hear the news before work.
  2. Radio 1. I'm sorry, but Chris Moyles is just a big fat git who lots of teenagers finds funny. The music is at best variable, and most of what I get is actually inane drivle interspersed with occasional jingles, with the odd track of music thrown in.
  3. Radio 2. Wogan. Music from elevators, humour from the 1970's but without the slapstick.
  4. Radio 4. The Today show. I get the news and weather. The 0810 interview is sometimes ok, but generally just gets me angry with the vagaries and downright bastard lies from politicians (of all colours).
  5. Southern FM. Really irritating adverts, not much music (and the same stuff over and over and over...), chirpy presenters (far too bright, eff off you bastards, its first thing in the morning), traffic reports every 20 minutes (but they make you listen to the bloody adverts first).
  6. Southern Counties Radio. Decent traffic reports which have the advantage of being RDS, but OH MY GOD the shows are soooooooo boring I'm in danger of falling asleep at the wheel...
What to do, what to do...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Forms of nursing

It seems a week can't go by without yet another form appearing that I am supposed to use to refer patients to a particular service. I totted up how many different referal forms I have in my box file the other day: 22 . Yes, twenty-two different forms to refer patients to different NHS departments. Alot of these forms have similar information requirements: they all need demographical details of course, as well as a few details of the presenting complaint leading to the referal. Some of these forms we have managed to get in electronic form from the originator, which we can then adapt so our clinical software can automatically fill out at least some of it. Of course, we need to ensure that the forms' authors are happy with it before we can start using them. Others, we can't, for one reason or another.

A particular bug-bear I have is the fact that we now have to communicate with the District Nursing team by writing them a note on a specific form and faxing it to their offices. They have been expecting this for the last 2 years or so, ever since they were reorganised so that they were no longer attached to a specific surgery, but in a "locality". Before this, if Mabel developed a leg ulcer, we would speak to the District Nursing Sister when she came to the surgery (usually a daily occurence to collect supplies). She would check to make sure there were no matters to be discussed before she left. In addition we had a weekly Primary Health Care Team meeting in the surgery.

Not any more. Oh no.

Now face-to-face communication is non-existant. I don't know most of the nurses who visit our surgery to run clinics. You can phone, but its just an answer phone. And if you do leave a message, you get a message back saying that they need a referal form. So you send the form, they see the patient (one assumes).

Of course, we don't get one back when they discharge patients from their case load. Neither do they keep their records anywhere near ours: they have their own folders, kept at the patient's house, which are later archived somewhere mysterious, never to be seen again.

And I haven't even mentioned the referal/discharge criteria which are being introduced by the management teams.

I'll give you 3 guesses how much consultation there has been with other professionals stakeholders as to whether this is necessary, never mind a good idea. And the first 2 guesses don't count...

Where the driving force behind these changes comes from is a matter of further irritation. Yep, the good old Department of Health. Bless 'em. Except of course that the decisions where made locally, not centrally. Except of course that the decisions were basically forced upon the local health economy by financial decisions further up the food chain. Decisions made in London. See how that links up? Clever, innit?

I could go into why these changes are apparently "good for patients". All I know is that the patients complain to me that they don't see the same nurse more than two or three times. The nurses are getting more and more officious (a sure sign to my mind of the stresses they are under and their levels of dissatisfaction with the way they are working). Inevitably, there are the usual recruitment freezes periodically (though, to be fair, recently there seems to have been an influx of community nurses, less well qualified than District Nurses, though forced to do the same job).

Gets right on my wick.

Bring on Practice Based Commissioning. Care to hazard a guess at one thing we're contemplating taking over from the PCT?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dr Rant

Oh my goodness.

Please please read this blog. (Click on thread title, it links to the Dr Rant blog.)

It is so right.

If I had more time, I would tell you more, but I haven't.

Go read it.

And then laugh.

And then wonder if you should actually be crying instead...