Rationing care is a fact of life for the NHS

Richard Vize reports in the Guardian 24th April 2015: Rationing care is a fact of life for the NHS , but the average patient does not know this, until they need a service. It’s one of the toughest issues the health service has to face, but it should be debated openly, honestly and without political interference.

This week’s survey by HSJ revealing that 39% of clinical commissioning groups it contacted were considering rationing care to save money in the coming year highlights one of the murkier areas of health policy and raises a number of difficult questions.

Rationing is nothing new, of course. When waiting lists stretched to many months and even years, treatment was often rationed simply by the patient dying before they reach the operating table. Heart surgery was a striking example of this. The long waits in A&E departments acted as another form of rationing.

Labour’s all-out assault on waiting lists and eventual introduction of the 18 weeks referral-to-treatment target ended this backdoor workload management system. Now the NHS Constitution gives the impression that clinical need and conformity with Nice guidelines are all that stand between the patient and treatment, while the purchasing decisions of commissioners should ensure that any rationing is open to public scrutiny.

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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