Monday, 28 April 2008

Money burning Direct

The following short passage comes courtesy of an anonymous contributor to, a doctor who was involved in the set up of NHS Direct and who clearly experienced the grim reality of New Labour's top down tinkering with the health service:

"I was involved in the set up of NHSD on the national clinical steering group - our job was essentially to try to limit the potential damage caused by the torrent of ill informed directives coming from the No.10 policy unit.

It was a fascinating introduction to the interface between politics and health care. I was eventually "invited not to re-apply" for repeatedly posing the question - What advice are we giving the callers and is it any good?

It was made very clear to me that NHSD was a great success and therefore such questions could not be asked. It cost about £230M to set up and must have cost at least as much as that again since.

So far as I know there is has been little serious study of its safety or effectiveness nor any serious attempt to measure value for money.

No one really knows the answer to your questions and my personal view is that is is pretty harmless and pretty useless, it certainly has not lived up to any of the grand claims made for it at the outset. As you well find out most people working in other parts of the NHS hate it with a vengeance, believing it to be inept, inefficient, generating work for others and probably dangerous."

At best NHS Direct is a benign waste of money, at worst a dangerous waste of money, the truth is probably somewhere in between. What this does demonstrate rather nicely is the way in which short term political gains have been prioritised over the short and long term public interest by some greedy control freaks at No 10. Money wasting short term gimmicks are now the normal response from No 10, the dis empowerment of professionals continues as important decisions are made by career politicians with no knowledge in the areas in which they are so keen to make these big decisions.

It is no coincidence that Clostridium Difficile continues to run riot in England. Several factors that have been key in this rise have been as a direct result of political meddling in the NHS; these being bed occupancy rates, a lack of capacity to isolate patients, the excessive movement of patients due to politically driven targets, a shortage of nurses to do the basic nursing and dirty hospitals partly because of the short termist privatisation of NHS cleaning services. Of course the people making the decisions, the big cheeses in No 10, will never take any responsibility for their actions and the sage will continue. That's progress for you according to the Supreme Leader.


Jobbing Doctor said...

NHS Direct has always been an expensive and ineffective sideshow.

Another one of Blair's vanity projects.

Tim said...

Good Job! :)