Friday, 16 October 2009

Health service in meltdown (again)

BED closures; ending of in-patient surgery; no hot meals for visitors…Northern Ireland’s health service was this week portrayed as being in meltdown, with swingeing cuts being the order of the day.

Health and social care services represent the biggest cost to NI plc so any percentage based cuts are bound to have a proportionately larger effect.

One can’t help but wonder whether the health service is a victim of its own success.
More patients than ever are receiving better care, the general population is living longer, long term conditions such as asthma and diabetes are receiving better services, and cancer survival rates are improving.

All of which cost more.

So while the Stormont health committee rants at unions, managers and anyone else, the directive should be to stop being so good at your jobs! Yes, all you doctors and nurses out there – you are obviously letting the side down by helping patients live longer. This is a singularly poor approach to managing the budgets.

And, as for managers and administrators, the chief executive of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust William McKee told the health committee this week that even if he fired everyone in administration it wouldn’t save the £93m that is needed in efficiency savings over the next three years.

Still it’s the thought that counts!

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