Forward!: an analogue
Here’s what’s coming our way. And it ain’t just conservatives who will suffer as a result of our electorate having re-upped for fundamental transformation. There are old, infirm, in-pain hippies with deteriorating eyesight, too — and no amount of progressive bona fides or Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young on the iPhone will save them from the clinical inefficiency of a bloated, bean-counting bureaucracy bent on protecting its own power, control, and (most especially) funding.
— Which to me is the silver lining in an otherwise black belly of clouds on our new year’s horizon.
Some 56 per cent of primary care trust clusters told the NAO they had either introduced or tightened criteteria determining which patients are eligible for at least one type of common operation.
Hospitals in certain areas have stopped offering elective treatments for smokers or people above a certain level of obesity, while in others cateract patients are being forced to wait until their eyesight deteriorates further before being allowed surgery.
The figures are revealed today in a report on how well the NHS in England is performing in its attempt to make “efficiency savings” of between £15 billion and £20 billion by March 2015.
Rationing elective operations “essentially defers, rather than avoids, spending”, the report said, which noted that the health service “is making increased use of demand management measures to reduce the growth in hospital activity”.
The NAO called for senior NHS civil servants to introduce a national framework to prevent patients in some areas being subjected to tough new rules on qualifying for treatment while those in others are not.
Sight loss charities say cataracts operations have been particularly hard hit by cost-cutting measures, with patients in some areas having to wait until they are unable to drive or even read before being deemed suitable for surgery. The new report confirmed the number of cateract surgeries in England fell last year.
Orthopaedic surgeons also cite hip and knee replacements, saying that in some parts of the country patients are being left immobile while operations are delayed but in others patients with similar levels of pain or disability are receiving treatment.
In the summer, the heads of Britain’s top surgical organisations warned that patients’ welfare was being compromised by “unproven and arbitrary” rationing that was only a financial “quick fix” for cash-strapped NHS trusts.
Lowering eligibility criteria for “low priority” procedures could prevent patients getting timely treatment and raise the risk of their needing emergency procedures in later years or reduce the effectiveness of future operations, the report claimed.
In most cases primary care trusts said eligibility had been restricted for clinical reasons, but 11 per cent of clusters said rationing measures had been brought in primarily to save money.
More than one in five clusters also reported that financial caps had been set on GP referrals, or that minimum waiting times had been put in place for certain procedures.
The report found that the NHS had made £5.8 billion of savings in 2011-12, principally through the public sector pay freeze and a reduction in the prices primary care trusts pay for treatment.
But it added the figure was uncertain because the savings were reported by the chief executives of primary care trusts and the Department of Health had not independently verified the figures.
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said the NHS had made a “good start” in making savings but “to build on these savings and keep pace with the growing demand for healthcare it will need to change the way health services are provided and to do so more quickly.”
That these savings come at the expense of treatment and are similarly helped by death or providing purely pain care in lieu of corrective treatment? Sorry. But, choices need be made. If everyone is to have free health care, you can’t really expect everyone to have free health care treatment, can you? Why, that defies math!
We should have thought that was obvious. Hell, even that countrified snowbilly with the public college education figured it out — though we admit to not being terribly fond of the rather inelegant way she put it. “Death panels”? Please. We’re merely realistic accountants. And sometimes you have to cut your ties to poor investments, like, say, old broken down humans who’ve already had their fair share of life and need to just suck it up and expire.
For the Greater Good.
Meantime, enjoy your free condoms!
(thanks to Brian L)