Plans to break up the NHS will cause chaos

Surgeon attacks “phony revolution” (24/01/2011)

Commercialisation of primary care may prove “headbangingly-frustrating”, according to a trainee trauma surgeon.

The anonymous surgeon reveals the problems caused in hospitals by the growing use of primary companies in an article for Channel Four News.

Using the pen-name Catherine Blake, the surgeon hits at the proposed NHS reforms, criticising the government’s proposals to ensure GP commissioners deal with competing providers.

Ms Blake says the new system will find itself plagued by a lack of link-up between IT systems of the different organisations involved in patient care.

She gives the example of orthopaedic clinics, where patients arrive having had tests already undertaken by the GP using private companies.

She writes: “More often than not, we in hospital outpatients have no access to the results. I then have to send the patient for a repeat scan or test, further delaying their treatment.

“It is head-bangingly frustrating for me, and patients are understandably outraged at this idiotic system. But they will have been offered a choice as to where to have the tests done: they (reasonably) choose the quickest route and (reasonably) expect that this will expedite decision making when they reach their specialist. Not so.”

She says health secretary Andrew Lansley’s pledges to reduce paperwork are welcome, adding: “The idea of a leaner health service, with less interference, freeing doctors and nurses to deliver excellent care, money saved on red-tape freed up for the frontline.

“There is much to be welcomed in the bill, including a focus on quality and the use of patient centred outcome measures. It is seductive.”

She calls for safe levels of hands on nursing on wards and increased capacity to make single sex wards a reality.

And arrangements for junior doctor working now need radical change, she says, to restored the idea of a “medical firm,” in which juniors work with consultants.

She concludes: “This is a phony revolution, driven not by patients or clinicians, but by business interests.”

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