It's PBR day today and as we await details of the BBB [Brown borrowing binge], it's timely to remind ourselves of how Labour have squandered the NHS - the people, our money and it's reputation. The NHS is now on a life support machine and here are some of the reasons why:
1. Wasted Investment - a Naive assumption that money alone will raise standards. Cumulatively hundreds of billions extra have been spent on the NHS since 1997 but we still can't access the latest medicine or innovative technology; most hospitals are understaffed; delays in diagnosis means poorer prognosis; community nurses are becoming a rare breed; transaction costs are ludicrously high and simple business paradigms are not applied. Labour have been appalling stewards of the public purse.
2. NHS IT fiasco - Labour thought it was about IT when it should have been about improving care. Mind boggling belief that the Centre should control supply of IT through firms with no products to hospitals with existing systems while ignoring the workforce. At a predicted total cost that rivals the Olympics, the NHS IT Programme has so far cost us at least £2Bn [there is dispute over actual spend to date] and delivered precious little other than increased costs and decreased efficiency, now being counted in million pound deficits by hospitals such as the Royal Free.
3. Consultation Shams - insulting charades that purport to draw on frontline expertise. What is the point of spending millions on round Britain 'consultations' with hand picked audiences who simply endorse and consolidate the proposals? Result - the most disillusioned workforce [clinicians and managers] in the history of the NHS.
4. Healthcare Acquired Infections [HAIs] - death by neglect. The knowledge of HAIs has been growing particularly since the 1990s when the incidence of MRSA exploded. Hospital responses have varied but there is no doubt that the ability to deal with HAIs has beens significantly hampered by the huge burden of innumerable, centrally imposed mandatory targets...