Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Latest On NHS Financial Shambles

Bailiffs were sent in to University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust after it shambolically failed to respond both to a reminder, and then a summons from the city council to pay business rates. A spokeswoman for the trust said: "An administration error meant that our payment to the council was late. When we realised the mistake (ie when the bailiffs smashed the door down) we paid the bill and apologised to the council. Since then we have tightened our procedures to make sure that this never happens again."

Hmm. Wonder what CPO Commissar Hewitt- MP for Leicester East- makes of that. Presumably she's made a note not to get ill while in her constituency.

Meanwhile, much closer to Chez Tyler, Surrey and Sussex Strategic Health Authority continues its financial melt-down. Now it's having to borrow £97m just to pay the wages. The Commissar has sent in one of her dreaded NKVD hit squads to “bring back the basics of sound financial discipline” after it “significantly overspent [its] budget”. A spokesman said that a minority of NHS organisations “are failing to manage within the resources available despite receiving significant increases in funding”.

By great good fortune, we're rich enough to afford private medical care. But I fear for the SSSHA's more needy customers.

A disgraceful failure of top-down public services.

PS David Cameron, having mistakenly ruled out real NHS reform, is now thrashing around looking for some...well, you'd have to say, some middle way. He now says "Successive governments have sought to achieve their aims by changing the structures and process that govern the NHS. The effect has been creeping centralisation with ministers trying to micro-manage more and more of the NHS. With each bad headline ministers have sought greater control."

Wow, Dave, mate- are you feeling OK? We can all agree with that. And the solution? 'In the same way that the Chancellor sets the inflation target but leaves it to the Bank of England to control inflation, Mr Cameron envisages a system where ministers would set only the legal and financial framework of the NHS.'

Doh! You see Dave, inflation's easy: it's a single unambiguous target that the Bank's technicians have to hit. The trouble with health is that it's horrible complicated, with all kinds of judgements and trade-offs being required, and not just over means but also ends. Should you spend more on cancer drugs, hip ops, mental health, or what? Politicians couldn't and wouldn't walk away from it, particularly while they still held all the purse-strings.

Start again.

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