Remedies for the desperate plight of the NHS


Lord Desai writes to the Times 14th Jan 2017: Remedies for the desperate plight of the NHS

Sir, The NHS has been in crisis almost every year for the past 51 years I have lived here. It used to be the nurses’ morale and now it is A&E. A partial answer, as Philip Collins suggests (“Desperate NHS needs a desperate remedy”, Jan 13) is an explicit system of rationing. But there is also a need to explain to the users that free care has a “resource” price, only they don’t pay it directly. Every individual should receive an “Oyster” card” preloaded with so many points, and each treatment should have a declared price that would be deducted from the card when used. The card would be refilled as necessary, but at least patients would be made aware that each time they use the NHS there is a price paid somewhere in the system by someone else who is thereby being kept out.

Lord Desai House of Lords

Reply: ‘OYSTER’ HEALTH CARD (letters 17th Jan 2017)

Sir, Lord Desai’s Trojan horse proposal to achieve pay-as-you-go in the NHS is excellent, apart from its rather London-centric “Oyster card” allusion (letter, Jan 14). Having been in Milan helping to build the European Institute of Oncology, I would add in a chip with each patient’s entire medical record, as used throughout Italy’s health service. This must be better than the NHS’s failed IT scheme. Moreover, it’s high time patients were empowered with the responsibility to hold their own data. Whose data is it anyway?

Professor Gordon McVie Division of Cancer Studies, KCL, and clinical adviser, Institute of Molecular Oncology, Milan

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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.

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