Tuesday, 26 June 2007

The illusion of choice, the reality of death

As an arrogant medically trained doctor I must first apologise in advance for daring to have an opinion that may not be agreed with by all multi-disciplinary team members. It has to be accepted that a small percentage of health care professionals are boneheaded enough to think the all the government does is in the best interests of patients, while some are corrupt as opposed to boneheaded.

The government seems only too happy to keep pretending that it cares for the interests of patients, the pretence goes on with the NHS centre for 'involvement'; what utter codswallop. It is another in a long line of expensive glossy schemes that are designed to pretend that the government is listening, when in actual fact there is no listening going on at all.

In reality the government's ideological program of reform is putting patients lives at risk. There have been efforts to enforce the privatisation of the NHS via the internal market and centrally imposed deficits. Have a read about the government's attempts to downgrade Worthing and Southlands hospitals, it's pretty dismal stuff. It comes from the same team that has brought us numerous similar schemes of reconfiguration and downgrading up and down the country, all of it against the wishes and interests of local people.

There is a nonsensical push to move emergency and obstetric care into the community, while the resources for this switch are not provided; and even if they were it would still be a step back to the dark ages, some things are still best cared for in a hospital unless you have a deathwish. Many senior consultants are in agreement the the cuts will put patients at risk. There was very little consultation, and it is extremely worrying that the services that will remain after this downgrading bonanza could well not be able to cope with the new increased demand. Is this ringing any bells? Have New Labour done this in a region near you?

It has happened near me. One specialty service was downgraded at a local hospital and shifted to a private treatment centre. Unfortunately this new treatment centre did no more work than the old hospital's specialty unit did, and it cost as much to run as all the other specialty services at the local hospital put together! This is where ideological reform gets you, to where you were before for around ten times the price.

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