Tuesday 30 December 2008

'Fast losing its compassion'

Look here upon this story, and on this. Both demonstrate a radical cluelessness about what's wrong with the NHS and how it could be made better. Both in fact demonstrate how far that great bloated monster of an institution has drifted from its proper purpose and business (as have so many other institutions, but the NHS dwarfs them all) - and why is this? Precisely because of endless managerial interference, with the consequent bloating of a self-serving bureaucracy, the never-ending attempt to quantify and rank everything and to reduce it to boxes that can be ticked, targets that can appear to be met. The process itself, in all its ramifications, overwhelms everything - including what used to be meant by professionalism and judgment - and you end up with an NHS which is indeed 'fast losing its compassion' - along with its efficacy and its capacity to do the job it is supposed to do, which is to heal people or, failing that (and every bit as important) make them feel better. One looks back fondly to the old days when GPs understood that their job, as often as not, was to keep the patient entertained while nature effected a cure. Now their patients are in effect being invited to comment on the quality of the entertainment, in a singularly fautous exercise that certainly will not develop an Amazon-style market in the practice of medicine. How could it, as long as medicine is practised by real doctors in real geographical locations - unlike the online virtual market(non)place? 'Feedback' of the kind proposed merely encourages the permanently aggrieved (and idle) and makes no difference to anything - none in the right direction anyway. Still, it gives the scary Ben Bradshaw his moment in the limelight while things are quiet between Christmas and New Year.


  1. I'm thinking more about that poor man who died from a virus just before Christmas after having to wait five hours to be seen in A&E even though he was an emergency case. It all sounds so avoidable in hindsight but one wonders. I suppose a problem is that if you play straight you wait, as he did; but if you play the system and fib, exaggerate, BS while dialling 999, you win.

    I've had extremely good treatment from the NHS over the past couple of years. As good as it gets, I think, and if I'd paid for it I wouldn't have had better treatment. So I'd count myself a very fortunate and grateful bunny. Free medical aid of this standard not available to folks in 90 per cent ++ of the world, don't forget.

    My own two cents is that this government hates us and it hates humanity in general. Most of the gov's schemes seem to involve treating people very badly or encouraging us to treat one another badly by way of whingeing, complaining, suing courtesy of legal aid, spying, informing, demanding compensation, etc. I'm out of the whole gig, thanks. The gov and its suing, spying friends can FO. New Years Resolution #1: shoot the lawyers!

  2. Well, as someone who works in the NHS i can say i have about 5 managers, each of whom is paid i think about 50 K - all busy, all the time, but so far as i can tell all they do is have endless meetings with each other. My closest manager went on holiday for 5 weeks and it didn't make the slightest difference to how things were run, except that people would sometimes go home 5 minutes early, and consequently felt a bit less oppressed by work. i am sometimes tempted to ask her if she serves any real function at all but i like her so would rather not question her raison d'etre and precipitate her suicide.