Friday, August 28, 2009

The NHS: why we should debate

The latest figures for inpatients and outpatients waiting times have been published today by the Department of Health:

Inpatient Waiting times
• The number of patients, for whom English commissioners are responsible, waiting over the 26 weeks standard for inpatient admission at the end of July 2009 was 25 (compared to the total of 590,000).

• The number of patients, for whom English commissioners are responsible, waiting over 13 weeks at the end of July 2009 was 43,000, a decrease of 1,900 (4.3%) from June 2009, but a rise of 3,500 (8.9%) from July 2008.

Outpatient Waiting times

• The number of patients, for whom English commissioners are responsible, waiting over the 13 weeks standard for a first outpatient appointment following GP referral at the end of July 2009 was 62 (compared to the total of 1,032,000).

• The number of patients, for whom English commissioners are responsible, waiting over 8 weeks at the end of July 2009 was 62,000, an increase of 8,500 (15.8%) from June 2009, and a rise of 26,900 (76.7%) from July 2008.

For me, it's not so much the increases or decreases and percentages which gets me (although an increase of almost 16% for those waiting for an outpatients appointment is rather hefty) but the actual targets themselves.

And the reason I am raising it is not because I want to berate it or praise it, because I'm not a doctor and I don't know if waiting half a year for an operation is normal in the rest of the developed world. It goes back to the debate Dan Hannan took so much stick for getting involved in. Why can't we have a proper discussion about this without the loony left and badly read hacks starting to hurl 'he wants to privatise the NHS' around with the same hiss as they would call someone a paedophile?

Would privatising the NHS be so bad? Would it mean we had better health cover and shorter waiting times? Or not?

I fear the reason we can't is the same reason we don't discuss a proper overhaul of our benefits system, immigration policy and membership of the EU: because those in power don't want to highlight what a complete and utter fuck up they've made of running the country for the last 70 years, because they don't know that much about it and can't be bothered to find out or even admit to themselves they don't know everything and because the public are considered too ignorant to understand what they're talking about and we'll probably pick the wrong answer.

So we'll stick with the same, for better or worse.


Mark Wadsworth said...

The 'NHS debate' is in fact two completely separate debates:

1. The Funding Side (choose your own mix of taxpayer funded, co-payments and private insurance).

2. The Provision Side (choose your own mix of state run monopoly and competing providers).

If you break it down like that the way forward is much clearer.

The Minstrel Boy said...

I don't know where they get their information from, but just for the record, I was referred to see the neurologist at my local hospital last year (Calderdale Royal in Halifax) by my GP. I got the first available appointment,- 8 months away! My GP had requested an urgent appointment as I had symptoms of a degenerative neuro-muscular disease which at the time could have been anything from a brain tumor, MS, Motor-neurons disease or Muscular Dystrophy etc! Considering the urgency of my situation I was discusted with the service I recieved, as was my GP. My GP however, was extremely supportive and the service I recieved from him was excellent. He arranged for me to have an urgent MRI scan within 2 weeks to rule out anything urgently life-threatening before I got to see the Neurologist. I eventually got to see the Consultant Neurologist who made a premininary diagnosis and referred me to another hospital 30 miles away in Leeds. this appointment was only three months away! I still had to wait another 8 months for a follow-up appointment to see the first Consultant Neuro. again! I now know that I have a form of parkinsons disease, which I am now recieving treatment for. The care and service I have recieved from my GP has been excellent and faultless, but the waiting time to see consultants is ridiculous! I now travel to Pinderfields hospital in Wakefield to see the Neurologist as the waiting list there is only about 10 weeks. However, this is a 2-1/2 hour bus/train journey away!

James Higham said...

It still remains that the provision side is not good.

subrosa said...

All this going on and still people insist the NHS is the best in the world.

They want their bumps feeling.

Idle Pen Pusher said...

This is what I think of the NHS.

And this is what could replace it...