Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Picking and choosing


            WE REVEAL



The government wants hospitals to be run like businesses, now why is that?

They say it’s because businesses are more efficient than the State at running things (try out Northern Rock, HMV, Royal Bank of Scotland, Woolworths, for a start).

The fact is there are good managers and bad managers. The good ones tend to go for the big salaries, but that doesn’t mean that if you pay a big salary you get a good manager – it doesn’t work like that.

So, how can a public service hospital be run like a business?

Private hospitals don’t exactly flourish in this country, even though they all have charitable status (did you realise that?) which means they pay little or no tax.

They employ very few Doctors or Nurses; they rely on agency staff, part timers and Surgeons using the hospital for their own private work.

Most of the treatment is paid for by insurance companies rather than wealthy individuals. The result is that the hospital is parasitic on the NHS. Most private hospitals are sited very close to NHS hospitals, which makes it easy for staff to turn up to do an extra, private shift.

What don’t private hospitals do? Accident and Emergency and difficult illnesses. They all cost money, in terms of staff and equipment. Insurance companies don’t like that.

What they love are short stay, quickie operations, planned in advance. Just the kind of thing the NHS would love to concentrate on but can’t. Using NHS staff moonlighting, they can do these very efficiently.

So, how could an NHS Hospital be run like a private hospital? It can’t. So the private health providers are circling around like vultures, waiting to pick off profitable parts of the NHS, leaving the difficult and expensive things behind.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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