Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Let's close a few large hospitals to improve the NHS.

A very serious matter today.

My apologies for the length of this posting but this is important.

The latest criticism of the Government’s health policy relates to a suggestion that some large District hospitals may have to close.

I totally agree with the proposals.


Simple really – Hospitals should be places we go to when we are ill, not when we are well.

Hospitals should only be places for those who are most ill and thereby offer the best care for those relatively few people who actually need to be in hospital beds. Many billions of pounds every year go into hospital care and much of that could easily be redirected to develop healthcare outside hospitals.

There is actually nothing knew in these ideas. Managers in the NHS have known this makes sense for years.

So why haven’t these ideas been introduced before now?

That is also simple – it is far ‘too hot’ politically – and a guaranteed vote loser for politicians - to even remotely hint that closing hospitals makes any sense.

No aspiring Member of Parliament will ever win votes by suggesting what is considered political suicide.

My argument goes like this;

By closing the hospitals and ‘releasing’ the money, we can improve services in the GP surgery; in the community; and in working partnerships between health and social care providers. This means all ‘less critical’ services can be provided more effectively outside hospitals, in more local care settings, for the vast majority of people who do not need to go to hospitals. This really is a no-brainer.

Ask yourself; Why do people have to go to the hospital out-patient appointments when most of the service they actually receive can be provided in the GP surgery just down the road?

The answers is; Simply because the hospital exists and that is the way we have always done it.

It is always seen as a radical suggestion to close big hospitals. Complex arguments will be put forward about why it is impossible to close even one large District hospital in the entire country.

And yet we all know it makes sense.

I suspect in 20 years time we will still be having these arguments as we were 20 years ago. And I suspect not one large District Hospital will have closed in 20 years time unless the ‘wake up call’ is really grasped

Closing hospitals makes great sense from another angle. They are dangerous and unhealthy places to be in.

If you think I am exaggerating or using emotive language about the dangers of being in hospital as a patient please read this and reflect:

‘It is estimated that around 10 per cent (900,000) of patients admitted to NHS hospitals have experienced a patient safety incident, and that up to half of these incidents could have been prevented. Furthermore, it is estimated that 72,000 of these incidents may contribute to the death of patients.’

Source: The Health Foundation



Anonymous said...

Seems like TREVOR AND GULLIVER probably think 823 slides is HARDLY ENOUGH GIVEN THE WAY THEY CRAVE WORD SMITHING at length - even with the Devil himself [herself] PERHAPS? :>] :>]

Posted by sean at September 19, 2006 02:36 PM

Trevor - can you believe this - I'm mockingly using your blog for a totally unrelated blog which I've secretly embedded on the TP site! And it cleverly drags your name through the FRAY - I know NO shame! Thank you. :>]

Trevor Gay said...

Great stuff Sean - I have responded on TP!

Mark Foscoe said...

Strikes me that we ought not to be building very large hospitals anyway: why cause traffic congestion, patient congestion, all the usual Big Organisation Problems and a feeling of being a very small patient in a very large factory? Hospitals should be a reasonable size where people (staff and patients) feel at ease and dedicated to getting people better.

I'd divert some of the funds Trevor will release to local doctor surgeries where wellness programmes can be directed at local communities.

Trevor Gay said...

You are spot on Mark - and this is the sort of thing I have been arguing for many years. Hospitals are big, impersonal places and people who go there as patients are generally not ill. We all know it is a far more sensible investment to spend money on wellness programmes but when the chips are down the politicians and managers take the ‘easy’ option of building more hospitals. This is a cultural thing and we need to keep ramming home the simple point that hospitals are places to go to ONLY when we are ill. Thanks again for your excellent observations.