Monday, November 20, 2006

Redundant advertising

I read this story a couple of weeks ago. It was also posted in various other places, including the BBC, most of the national press and other media. I didn't comment on it at the time because I thought it pathognomic of the difficulties the NHS is facing, and that further comment was not necessary.

But now we have this.

So lets compare these two stories, shall we?

On the one hand, the NHS workforce has reduced in the last year by about 20,000. There are an indeterminant number of compulsory redundancies, which the Government says are just under a thousand. Yeah, right...

On the other hand, hospitals will now be able to advertise their services. who to? Not to patients, oh no. To doctors. Yes to GPs like me.

But hold on a moment. Don't I already refer to hospitals? Am I not already obliged to refer to someone I at least know of and trust to do the right thing by my patients? To quote paragraph 55 of Good Medical Practice:

Referral involves transferring some or all of the responsibility for the patient's care, usually temporarily and for a particular purpose, such as additional investigation, care or treatment that is outside your competence. You must be satisfied that any healthcare professional to whom you refer a patient is accountable to a statutory regulatory body or employed within a managed environment. If they are not, the transfer of care will be regarded as delegation, not referral. This means you remain responsible for the overall management of the patient, and accountable for your decision to delegate.
My highlighting, by the way.

But the Government is already trying to force me to abrogate my responsibility for ensuring that I know what service my patients can expect with Choose and Book: I can't refer to a named consultant, if I can refer at all!

But back to the point at hand...

So, lots of people out of work (however you want to define it), so cutting costs.

The money saved can now be invested in advertising a hospital's services to the GPs who are already referring to it, likely involving the recruitment of advertising and marketing managers. Of course that means less money for patient care. I suppose the idea is that advertising will increase the number of "service users", thus increasing income under the "Payment by Results" tariff.

What kind of buggered up system is this? That money should go towards patient care.

I'm 36. I can't wait to retire.


Dr John Crippen said...

I'm 36. I can't wait to retire.


God, it is AWFUL when people like you say something like that. Possibly only in jest but say it a few times and it becomes part of the creed.

It is desperately sad what is happening; what is being done to healthcare in our name.

BUT, I have to say, if you are really thinking of retirement already, then for God's sake get out and do something else.

You are young enough!


Russell Brown said...

More than a little tongue in cheek John. Honestly, I can't think of anything I'd rather do than this.

But the beaurocracy is already sending me slightly deranged. I have no idea what the future holds for general practice, but I fear it will involve Big Pharma directly supplying medical services in some form.

Blair et al obvoiusly hold no value in the creed of "IF it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The old contract needed amending, but reform is apparently for reforms sake, in all areas of the health service.

Seriously? Roll on 2030...

Anonymous said...

I'm 44 and until recently was truly dedicated to the HS, but this year I find myself saying a) roll on retirement, and b) what else can I do? There must be other jobs out there...

I don't like what the Government is doing to the NHS and, as a direct consequence, what the NHS is now doing to me.

delcatto said...

Oh God. I'm another one. After 21 years as a nurse I have begun to contemplate my retirement because I am watching these political bozos dismantle the NHS piecemeal in the name of 'progress'.
It's like being a crew member on a plane and looking at the mechanics dismantle the wings whilst we are flying at 20,000 feet.