National Health? Part 3: Dr Oblique’s prescription

Not my most popular subject….. but I started a series, so I will finish!

These are just a few amateur suggestions to add to the debate, following National Health? Part 2: What seems to be the problem?

Size matters  A few years ago our local surgery opened a branch in the new estate up the road. It was a bit bigger, but not much. Now it is the main surgery. As a result, our ‘branch’ is only open for mornings. This is inconvenient, and may I add, unhealthy; we have to drive to appointments.

In my humble opinion, smaller units are better for health. They are local and the staff know everybody. Of course there is a need for specialist units; but more likely the large establishments are there simply because they are cheaper. I wonder if they are really effective in the long run. The cottage hospital, where people could convalesce (or even die peacefully) was a wonderful thing.

A moan  While I’m about it- as you know, I am keen to keep my blogs positive- would it hurt receptionists to tell patients when doctors are running late? I don’t mind this happening- my ailments are usually not urgent- but it would help my blood pressure to know.

The drugs don’t work Well, they do, of course. But- and I have no statistics to prove this- they must cost billions. OK, I’ll look it up…. over 15 billion pounds. Wow. Drugs are useful and effective, but do we rely too much on them? Do we need them all? To start with, antibiotics are often not needed and their over-use runs the risk of resistance in infections.So patients expect a prescription from GPs? I’m coming to that next week.

(Dr Oblique would ban drug companies from giving freebies to doctors, as a first step. True story: a colleague of mine was using promotional post-it notes at work which she had been given by a doctor relative. Much later I looked them up in a fit of idle curiosity and found they were promoting…. a drug for ‘erectile dysfunction’. Whoops.)

Time wasters  Apparently the huge amount of time wasted by people with silly or trivial ailments, real or imaginary, could be dealt with by a good triage system: sorting all cases cases, especially emergency ones, and referring them, where necessary, to non NHS sources of help. It seems there is still a lack of communication. Far be it from me to promote a technological solution, but there must be some means of producing a database where 101 and 999 control centres, NHS Direct, the police, social services, GPs and others all have quick access to essential notes, so that this can be achieved.

Efficiency  Now I could well be accused of talking rubbish here… but 93 NHS officials earn more than the Prime Minister. Cap the salaries! I like the idea that the highest paid in an organisation should earn no more than 2o times the salary of the lowest paid. And employ a manager with real business experience to examine efficiencies. I don’t mean cutting services; I mean cutting costs.

I apologise to anybody who has read this and finds it worse than my usual standard. I’m just rather disheartened that my last two blogs on the subject got zero and three views respectively. I still have more to say, and will finish next Sunday.

gabriel_nicolet_-_portrait_of_a_nurse_from_the_red_crossThe picture is a portrait of a nurse by Gabriel Nicolet, for no other reason but that it was the first appropriate illustration I came across. It  is not intended as a comment.


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