This story from the times is titled “The real cost of going private”. However, although the few areas of the private sector involved did not shine, the real villian here is, yet again, the NHS.

By sheer incompetence the NHS is delaying and in some cases probably prohibiting, people taking advantage of the Health Secretary’s ruling that  through either insurance or self-funding they can buy cancer treatments/drugs that are not available on the NHS.

In this story NHS jobs-worths are shortening a young man’s last few months by prohibiting access to drugs “because the policy isn’t written yet” or because they claim not to know about the change in the law.  The authors of this report generously say that the delays by the NHS staff are not for ideological reasons.  I would beg to differ, I have been working in and around the NHS since the mid 1980s and have lost count of the times that I have listened to the private sector being derided.  I know that there are NHS staff who would go out of their way to make it appear that the private sector is failing whatever the cost to the patient.

It is time for NHS to wake up and realise that the future is working with the Independent Sector.  The NHS cannot, and never has been able to do it all.  With the cuts in public spending that are coming our way independent sector health care providers will be features in all our lives providing care for NHS funded patients.  NHS staff will have to grow-up very quickly, put their houses, policies and relationships with the independent sector in order and get ready for these changes, because patients are quite rightly becoming ever more vocal when the NHS does not live up to its promises.

We have seen this week heads rolling in NHS trusts where appalling care has been given.  Maybe this has to happen a few more times before NHS staff start treating their patients as the customers they really are.

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