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Home | 2017 | September

The Envy-of-the-World™: solution found!

Posted by Thersites on UTC 2017-09-30 10:21.

Our frequent rants about that Envy-of-the-World™ in the United Kingdom, the soup-kitchen mockingly titled the National Health Service, are as tedious for us as they undoubtably are for our readers.

We could fill the blog every day with horror stories:

'Patients are dying ALONE in hospitals – too few staff, damning report reveals'; 'Number of NHS hospital beds has halved in three decades as Britain sits near the bottom of the pile among the world's leading economies'; 'Growing beds shortage leaving hospitals struggling to cope'; 'Brexit a major risk to almost every part of NHS, report warns'; 'Victims of breast cancer neglect: Treatment and funding shambles costs thousands of lives'.

That's just three days' worth from one UK newspaper.

Today's shock horror is a report by the new Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Prof Ted Baker, which generates the headline in the Telegraph 'NHS is not fit for the 21st century hospital chief inspector warns'.

The view from the top

What we get from Prof Baker is the viewpoint of a man who has risen through the NHS nomenklatura and is now reviewing the status of the current five-year plan for tractor production the NHS for the enlightenment of his political masters. As in all such fundamentalist Stalinist reviews no meaningful analysis is carried out. We get a list of failings – they would be hard to ignore – but no ideas about how to rectify these failings apart from issuing instructions:

Prof Ted Baker said it was “not acceptable” to keep “piling patients into corridors” as he urged hospital leaders to act swiftly to guard the safety of those in their care.

In his first interview as chief inspector, he said too many hospitals had normalised “wholly unsatisfactory” arrangements which endangered patients, as well as denying basic privacy and dignity.

Prof Baker has written to all hospital chief executives, calling for immediate action to improve safety in A&E, amid fears the NHS will struggle to cope with overcrowding this winter.

Trusts are instructed not to force patients to queue in ambulances, and warned of the dangers of leaving patients in corridors, where staff cannot even see them.

He told The Telegraph that he was concerned that a culture of “learned helplessness” had sprung up in some A&Es, where staff “just pile the corridor full of patients” leaving them exposed, unmonitored and even without access to vital supplies, such as oxygen.

Seems about right as far as it goes. That's the ticket: send all the underlings a stiff letter!

Wrinklies

Finally he gets round to naming names and calling out the true culprits: the elderly. Yes, the usual suspects – those selfish dodderers milking the state and Cool Young Britannia of its pension and healthcare money:

Around half of hospital beds are now taken up by people who should not be there, he said – either because their health would not have deteriorated with the right care, or because they could have been discharged if help was at hand.

In the last three decades, the population has risen by 16 per cent, but the number of pensioners has risen by more than one third, with increasing numbers of living longer, but often in frailty and illness.

Dr Baker suggests that hospitals – increasingly running at occupancy rates exceeding 95 per cent in winter months – are in danger of running out of beds and staff, without radical reform:

“Capacity is being squeezed all the time,” he said. “That is a real concern going forward – because there comes a point at which the capacity isn’t there”.

We got the last point all on our own, actually, Professor. Nor are we particularly surprised when he tells us that for the last 20 years – four five-year plans, to seasoned Kremlinologists – it occurred to no one in power that the demographic structure of the country would change. The functionaries who were so lacking in vision, instead of now being led along a prison corridor with a pistol poised behind their necks, are currently enjoying well deserved pensions. Stalin and Co. at least did something right, whereas the NHS is missing out on the most effective part of this management style. There would be fewer old people, too.

Well, so we all made a mess of things. His solution to the present situation?

“That is the fundamental thing that needs to change; we need a model of care that is fit for the 21st century and the population as it is now.”

In normal English: more and better soup-kitchens.