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My recent article for the Institute of Economic Affairs blog has been well recieved within the high circles of the blogging world and featured on both Conservative Home and Mark Wadsworth’s Blog.

Conservative Home is one of the UKs leading centre right blogs and Mark Wadsworth is one of the most read Libertarian bloggers.

More than sixty years on from the establishment of the NHS, members of the medical profession yet again are demanding that their ‘mouths are stuffed with gold’.

This time it is the General Practitioners who, during the ‘flu pandemic, want to make sure that they have their cake and eat it.  Not only are they refusing to give the UK population ‘flu vaccinations unless there are extra payments made by Government, they also want guarantees  that they will not lose their performance related payments if they have to cancel routine health checks and clinics due to the pandemic.

I could not put it any better than Matthew Elliott from the Tax Payers Alliance who has said;

Most ordinary taxpayers who are concerned for their health in the midst of the swine ‘flu epidemic will see this behaviour as greedy and inappropriate.  

GPs are trying to have it both ways: if they are cutting other work to treat swine flu, they can’t expect to be paid more.

Vaccinating patients against illness is a core part of GPs’ duties, and they should be getting their heads down and tackling the epidemic, instead of obsessing about their pay packets.

As far as the main stream media have been concerned, things have been very quiet at the Department of Health recently, so this prompted me to have a dig around to find out what our erstwhile health team have been up to.

Interestingly, Lord Darzi, one of the Health Ministers, is initiating a little publicised project called Personal Health Budgets (PHB), a new way of funding NHS care for chronically ill patients.  I first wrote about this here in January, but this week the Trusts undertaking the pilot schemes have been announced.

My criticisms of this project remain the same, while I applaud this initiative, I do not think that it goes far enough.  My view is that if projects like this are to really work, patients must be able to purchase care from the private sector as well as the NHS.

As part of my digging around I telephoned the PHB office.  Here while asking one question, “Will patients be able to purchase care from the private sector?”, I was passed around to speak to a number of people within the department.  The general gist of the replies I got was that the guidelines have not been developed yet, most of their experience is in social care not health so they are not sure what will be decided for health care and finally, they are not sure what will happen if patients become acutely ill because patients do not have the experience or knowledge to make such ‘difficult’ decisions! (or to put it bluntly, patients are not trusted to make decisions because the bureaucrats might not like the outcomes!).

This leads me to suspect that yet again an enlightened project will be derailed a bureaucracy that really doesn’t want patients to behave like customers.

Given the perilous times that we live in with the current economic climate, so ably discussed in this new Institute of Economic Affairs publication, there was a fantastic opportunity for the Royal Collect of Nursing at their congress this week to lead the way in setting the agenda for healthcare during the recovery period given that it is generally accepted that there will have to be sweeping public sector cuts.

However, it seems to me that this was barely mentioned at congress.  There were a couple of debates that seemed to conclude that financial considerations should not sully the waters of patient care, but the RCN once again demonstrated that they have no teeth!

Now is the time for them to lead the way, to recognise that the NHS has never worked, with billions of pounds pumped in to it in recent years patient care and outcomes have got worse and the system is in demise.

Come on RCN ‘smell the coffee’ as they say, embrace the market and lead the way in demanding a better way of providing health care in the UK.

I will be writing more on the Royal College of Nursing tomorrow, but in the mean time I just had to link to this.  At a time when the NHS is falling down around our ears do the RCN really think that discussing the implementation of a national uniform is a priority?

It seems that Government sources are using Nurses for Reform to defend some of their policies.  In responding to an attack on choose and book by some in the medical profession they cited a blog entry of mine to demonstrate that NFR are in support of the system.

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