NHS ‘is like a train just before a crash’

Its all been so predictable. Just read back to the first posting, and the “about” from NHSreality some 3 years ago!

Kat Lay on September 16th reports on The Kings Fund comment: NHS ‘is like a train just before a crash’

The NHS is like a train about to crash, leading health economists warned yesterday.

TRAIN Wreck

Analysts from the King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation said that the NHS was under severe pressure, with hospital overspending this year likely to hit £2 billion.

Anita Charlesworth, chief economist at the Health Foundation, said: “The NHS is massively overspending . . . and yet everything is carrying on. It is that moment before the train crashes, where actually everything is sort of oddly calm, but in the end you can’t overspend by that amount and it not have consequences.”

She said that there appeared to be a “massive gulf” between “the reality for hospitals up and down the country” and discussions at the top of the system about priorities such as seven-day services, “not actually articulating a plan for how on earth we get through the next 18 months”.

She added: “That’s one of the reasons, I think, we are seeing chief executives leaving these trusts because they don’t feel supported to address what is for them their burning challenge.”

Dr Keith McNeil, the chief executive of Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge, resigned, saying that in the light of “a number of very serious challenges . . . including a growing financial deficit” he felt “the time is right to have new leadership in place”.

Yesterday it also emerged that the hospital had blamed budget cuts for its decision to stop providing ice for patients’ water jugs.

Michelle Lewis discovered the move while visiting Addenbrooke’s when she asked for ice for her friend’s water on an oncology ward as the friend finds it easier to swallow her pills with iced water.

Ms Lewis was “horrified and gobsmacked” when two healthcare workers and a member of catering staff told her ice had been removed from jugs “because of budget cuts”.

The hospital, which has a deficit of about £1.2 million per week, said the move would save almost £40,000 per year. Ice was “still freely available for clinical use only”, including mouth care and ice packs, a spokesman said.

Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, said it would be “heroic” if the NHS did manage to deliver the £22 billion savings by 2020 called for a year ago in an NHS plan.

Meanwhile, MPs were told yesterday that doctors and nurses were walking past dying patients because they did not know how to help them or did not realise they were dying.

Professor Irene Higginson, a specialist in palliative care at King’s College, made the claim to the public administration and constitutional affairs select committee. She said 20 hours’ training for end-of-life care at medical school was “far too little”.

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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.

One thought on “NHS ‘is like a train just before a crash’

  1. Pingback: Dying cancer patients have no home help | NHS reality. An NHS soapbox. Speakers' corner for the NHS.

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