As the extraordinary financial crisis in the NHS spirals ever further out of control, healthcare is getting riskier (see previous blog). Now we have news that 20,000 jobs are to be axed as hospitals desperately struggle to balance the books.
One of the worst affected hospitals is the Royal Free in North London. It is already £19m in debt and the local paper reports it's "in freefall": it is "sacking more than 10 per cent of its staff and axing nearly 200 beds to slash costs...and save £25million next year". A senior nurse on one of the doomed wards, with 30 years experience at the hospital said:
"This is the worst I have ever known staff morale to be at the Royal Free. It is an absolute shambles. They didn't even come to the wards to tell us what was going on. I could have walked out on Tuesday and not turned back. It will be front line nurses losing their jobs, rather than top heavy management."
So what about the increased risk to patients? Well, it seems senior management are well aware of the issue because despite savage cuts on the wards, they are finding the money to hire four "Risk Assessment Managers":
"Well, Mrs Smith, I'm afraid I have to tell you that we assess your risk as extremely high."
"So I need to come into hospital?"
"Yes, you most certainly do...which is precisely why your risk is so high- we no longer have any beds you see."
This whole fiasco is yet another example of how our top-down Stalinist NHS is run to please the politicians, not us. Hospitals need to tick boxes like "risk assessment" if they are to qualify for more of those gold stars the bureaucrats hand out. Moreover, as we've blogged before, most of the cost over-runs actually reflect cost pressures emanating from Whitehall, not the individual hospitals.