An update for fans of the NHS


I have posted a number of essays on what I think health reform should look like. None of it looks like the NHS. Now, we have new information about how the NHS is functioning.

Figures collected by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) over the last seven weeks showed 88 per cent of A&E patients were treated or admitted within four hours – seven per cent below the 95 per cent target.
The report said that hospitals are also experiencing major problems discharging patients who are medically fit to go home.
Hospitals in England are failing to meet the 95 per cent target of seeing patients within four hours

The problem is being exacerbated by ‘bed blocking’ – where a patients cannot leave because there is not the right support in place in the community – with about a fifth of hospital beds being occupied in some parts of the UK.
Experts say the increasing problems in social care are having a major impact on the NHS.

This is an old problem with free care. We used to have patients in County hospital who would heat thermometers with hot coffee to avoid being sent home. Some of them were mentally disturbed and I have one such story in my book, “War Stories; 50 years in Medicine.

The NHS is having troubles all over.

The data shows performance getting worse since hospitals began submitting the data at the start of October.
Then, just over 92 per cent of patients were seen in four hours, falling to 88 per cent in the middle of November.
More than 6,300 planned operations have been cancelled over the seven-week period.
As an overall average, each site cancelled 21 operations per week, ranging from no cancellations to 137 in a single week.
The Department of Health and NHS England used to publish weekly data for England on how A&E departments were performing but have now stopped doing so.
Instead, data is published monthly but only covers figures from more than a month ago.

Hiding bad news is an old tactic of bureaucracies.


2 Responses to “An update for fans of the NHS”

  1. Jono says:

    I’m a physician in Australia and there are heaps of physicians from UK and Ireland fleeing to Australia. They’ve told me the NHS has slashed overall salaries by 30% to 40%. They’ve raised the base salary ever so slightly to make it appear as if salaries have increased but significantly lowered penalty pay (‘overtime’) which is where physicians make a lot. And hours are unchanged if not worse. NHS is a sinking ship and everyone who is able to secure a life raft or at least life preserver is abandoning ship.

  2. Mike K says:

    Jono, I would be curious if you have anything to say about the current state of affairs in Oz. I was there in 1987, just after Labour cancelled Medicare and announced care would be free. There was pandemonium because surgeons, in particular, had no source of income since they were not on salary unless they were university faculty.

    Any comments ?

    I was there again in 1992 but in Queensland where the government did not take over. There was still private practice as private hospitals, which did not exist in NSW, were still quite desirable.