Saturday, 30 January 2010

NHS Choices value for, or burning our, money?

After another popular extra long Gordon shift (remember the silent f in shift after the word Gordon) we said goodbye and hoped that our staff, who daily thank Gordon for disrupting their family life on a regular basis by offering extended access, would have an enjoyable weekend. Judging by their general demeanour it is clear they are getting peed off by the increasing amount of sh*te coming down from on high.

A good officer should motivate their men but, when the officers are peed off by those at the top, it is hard and if your morale is the same as the troops and you are fighting a war with no weapons (access to first world medicine) and no logistical support you know you can only hold the line for so long before you crumble and start taking casualties. Most GPs already have in the form of a pay cut year on year, increased work for no extra pay and increased taxation.

Small hint politicians if something is free people will take it whenever it is, whatever it is and wherever it is whether they need it or not. Try offering heroin 10 grams a time for free at 02.00hrs on the top of Ben Nevis in a blizzard and you will find queues of people who will take it (and keep coming back for more).

When we finally got home, kicked the kids, beat the wife and drunk a bottle of Scotch after the usual 18 hole round of golf that is a typical day in General Practice in the UK, we put on our reading jacket and read the GP rags and found the following article. The site referred to is here.

We asked ourselves how can a Government spend, and justify, the cost of 28 8 doctor practices on a website which does sod all? How can the costs have doubled in a year to deliver nothing useful?

If you have not as yet discovered this little gem take a look at the featured today item and amaze yourself at how much you already know about feet. Clearly those who wrote this did not discover by the time they hit junior school that clean socks daily, washing your feet with soap and water and taking your shoes of before going to bed helped prevent you getting teased in the playground. However, the authors, now website designers in their 20s or 30s, feel that their newly acquired knowledge should be shared with all.

Click the NHS Direct Get Medical Advice now link and go to the symptom checker. Being slightly merry grunts on a Friday night we went to the picture and clicked on the male genital link and found that what we had been taught in grunt school was wrong. We only needed to know 4 symptoms for both male and female genital symptoms. These are: burns and scalds, female vaginal problems, missed period and rashes.

We thank the Party and its organs for correcting our ignorance regarding male genital problems. We now know what we should ask the next time a male presents with a lump in his testicle. We shall ask him about any burns and scalds, any female vaginal problems, has he missed a period and does he have any rashes? We can see the look on his face now.

He will probably answer no to all of the NHS Choices male genital symptoms and so we can send him away knowing there is nothing wrong with his genitals. When the solicitor’s letter comes complaining about the missed testicular cancer diagnosis we can rest assured that our defence will be rock solid as we will quote the NHS Choices website that does not list testicular lumps as a male genital symptom and so there can’t have been anything wrong can there?

£ 28 million pounds on a website up from £ 13 million pounds in a year to produce what can only be described as a load of bollocks. A good comprehensive medical textbook would give you more information at a fraction of the cost.

We here in Northernshire live in an area of unbounded affluence and over educated patients and the car park is full of Range Rovers, BMWs and Jags and all of us drive Ferraris as do our staff we are so well paid. Just down the road is a heavily under doctored area and for a quarter of the cost of this useless website this area could be brought up to the right number of doctors per head of population.

Which, dear reader, do you think does more for the health of a population? The right number of doctors trousering a salary and providing health care to real patients or a load of website designers trousering millions to produce a website that an intelligent 11 year old doing a biology project could probably do a better?

It is after all your money so go on have a read. You might realize that you know a lot more than your average NHS website designer knows about healthcare but you won’t be as well paid.

Praise be to the Party whose wise use of technology to improve healthcare must be lauded all over the first world as a beacon to lead lesser countries forward.

We think not either that or we had a bit too much to drink last night after work.


Prisoner of Hope said...

15 years ago (when I was appointed - on the recommendation of the US Army Surgeon General's Office - to be in charge of the Saudi National Guard's Health Computing & Information) I needed to produce a national IT strategy that was (eventually) agreed by all concerned - including the US Congress who were funding it following the First Gulf War.

It was generally recognised that while the NHS then asked the right questions it always failed to come up with the right answers. The NHS was seen internationally as a warning of how not to succeed in harnessing the potential of IT in health care. If anything the situation is even worse now.

It is not that the intentions are wrong its just that they bear no relationship to any ability to deliver. The reality requires those with experience to point out the real costs and difficulties involved in answering the questions that are posed.

However as in other areas of health policy NuLabour - and their local storm trooper managers - have proved themselves unable to countenance anything that is not based upon their own faith (in voodoo economics, ersatz markets, "modernisation" for its own sake, "choice" that few really want).

This is not just a case of burning money, as you suggest, which could be regarded as just waste and a form of "innocent fraud". What has happened is tantamount to both corporate fraud and malfeasance - lining the pockets of those who contribute funds to support career politicians of both major parties. It is anti social behaviour of the worst kind.

Perhaps post Chilcott we should call for a public enquiry into these persistent "crimes against society".

John said...

The cost is all relative. The NHS budget is over £100bn. It needs a good website. How much is the right amount to spend, do you think?

There's a similar article to yours here. One of the comments is from the Director of Strategy for NHS choices. Interesting reading

John said...

sorry - here