Monday, October 30, 2006

The Lewisham Hospital NHS Trust: Value for money?
The Healthcare Commission reports that although the Lewisham Hospital NHS Trust’s quality of services is good, its overall use of resources is weak. It says this organisation failed to demonstrate that it had adequate arrangements for managing its finances. Areas for improvement were identified. Is this the price we must pay for good hospital care?

Of 570 NHS trusts across the country, only two - Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust -
gained an `excellent’ grade in quality of services and use of resources. Breaking news? Hardly. On January 8 2003, the Daily Mail reported that although NHS funding increased by 21.5% between 1999 and 2002, the number of patients treated rose only by 1.6%.

It seems to me that there is something fundamentally wrong with the very idea of the NHS. It ploughs its way through huge sums of money yet fails to offer a commensurate service. Is the idea of central planning – long abandoned in other key areas of life – showing its age in our healthcare? As the NHS approaches its 60th birthday some two years from now, is it time to rethink the entire enterprise and send it off on retirement…?

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