03 January 2009

The NHS and Spin

There are two stories about the NHS in the news today. The first is in the Telegraph, that the Government has used made decisions on reforms to tobacco and alcohol law by using data from the anti-tobacco and alcohol bodies that it funds, claiming their consultations are an 'overwhelming' voice of public opinion. We do need to do more to reduce levels of smoking and to educate more about alcohol - but when people resort to these sort of tactics it simply undermines confidence in the underlying reason for changes.

The second story is that the Government are paying some agency staff at rates equivalent to over 1/4m a year. I don't know the detail in this, and I also know how difficult it is to eliminate agency staff where there are recruitment problems, but it does seem to suggest that the "bank" system that was supposedly introduced in hte NHS isn't working. This morning I heard someone suggest that the reason it wasn't working was because they were unable to use the same budget they pay agency staff from to pay overtime for people who had subscribed to their banking system. If that is the case it is ludicrous.

It really does disturb me that, of all the public services, it is the NHS that seems the most politicised, the most open to use spin and the service whose senior management is most subscribed to the worst practices of the National Government. These two examples add to the substantial case for more localism in the way the NHS is run.

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