Stop These Wasteful Changes and Let the NHS Do Its Job

The Evening Standard (London, England), July 8, 2003 | Go to article overview

Stop These Wasteful Changes and Let the NHS Do Its Job


COMMENTARY by Frank Dobson

THE BEST thing the Government can do for the NHS is let it alone.

The people who work in the health service are sick of constant reorganisation.

They know such changes consume resources and distract people from their job.

Doctors, nurses, midwives, therapists and other NHS staff are not against change and improvement. They are developing their skills every day.

They want things done better in their surgery, their clinic, their ward, their operating theatre and they embrace change to bring it about. They want to be able to concentrate on patients.

They don't want to have to devote time and effort to yet another structural reorganisation.

But that is exactly what the Government is imposing on them.

Senior hospital staff all over London are already sitting in endless meetings about foundation status. And every hour in such meetings is one less hour devoted to patients.

My constituency is served by several hospitals, but University College Hospital is the only one going for foundation status.

It will be able to offer better pay and better working conditions to attract scarce professional staff from other local hospitals such as the Royal Free, the Whittington or Bart's. That may be good for UCH but it will be bad for the others and also unfair. It will also set hospital against hospital.

The Tories tried that with their internal market, which proved a disaster.

The costs of bureaucracy doubled and waiting lists went above one million for the first time.

A survey by Bristol University of recovery rates from heart attacks concluded: "Our central finding is that competition is associated with high death rates: in other words competition is associated with lower quality. …

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