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The NHS Wasted Billions – Where Does All Our Money Go?

The NHS Wasted Billions - Where Does All Our Money Go?Hardly a day goes by without one politician or another banging the NHS drum.  The political ping-pong often revolves around the NHS wasted billions.

In July of this year the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 covered the anniversary of the death of Aneurin Bevan, the founder of the National Health Service.  I wonder what Mr Bevan would make of today’s NHS.

During the program Jeremy Vine interviewed an Aneira Thomas, the first baby born in an NHS hospital.  She was born on the 5th July 1948 at Amman Valley Hospital, Carmarthenshire.

She, her three sisters, and her daughter have all spent years working in the NHS in a variety of roles. As you can imagine she is a champion for the Health Service and is very proud of her connection to it.

However, when Jeremy Vine asked her what was the single biggest cause of waste in the NHS here answer was surprising.  As I recall (and you can correct me if I’m wrong) she didn’t use the opportunity to knock the Tories or blame Conservative policies.  Instead, she seemed to draw attention to the waste within middle management.

During the preceding weeks I had seen numerous stories in the press about the amount of waste in the NHS.  It began to look as if the NHS is a huge bucket with so many holes in it that every time the budget is increased a lot of it escapes through the holes.

The NHS Wasted Billions

For 2015/16, the overall NHS budget was around £116.4 billion.  It’s the second biggest slice of the tax payers’ pie after pensions.  Defence spending for example is a third of health care.

If you work in the NHS you will probably have your own opinion so feel free to add your comments below this post.  I’d be interested to know what truth there is for each of these examples of the holes in the bucket.

  1. Consultants paid thousands for weekend work (NHS paying locums up to £4,000 for a day’s work, The Times, February 2017)
  2. Agency nurses paid excessive daily rates
  3. The protectionism of middle managers who take a salary but contribute nothing
  4. Paying fortunes for drugs that should cost a fraction of the cost
  5. Outright and deliberate fraud
  6. Health tourism (accounts for £1.8 billion alone)
  7. Failed IT projects
  8. Over-treatment and over-diagnosis
  9. Contracting management consultants who give no value for money
  10. Perks, expenses, and bonuses paid to staff well in excess of their productivity
  11. Theft from hospitals and other medical centres
  12. Self-inflicted conditions and associated illnesses e.g. obesity and illnesses it causes like diabetes, drinking to oblivion (I’m not including alcoholism, just the binge drinkers who blog up A&E) – (No excuse for eating junk food because healthy meals are cheaper, report finds)
  13. Six figure ‘golden handshakes’ for departing executives and consultants
  14. 1990 Courts And Legal Services Act (Section 58) which creates an annual legal bill of £1.5 billion
  15. Bills for private finance NHS hospitals under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI).  All but one of these deals was signed for under the Labour government between 1997 and 2010.
  16. Loss of equipment lent to patients that is not collected or returned
  17. Money sent abroad to fund anti-smoking projects in other countries
  18. Missed appointments by time wasters.  “Patients missing their appointments cost the NHS £1 billion last year” – The Guardian, 2nd January 2018

Are these all valid?  Can you think of any others?

Hospital Parking Charges

Hospital parking charges are a contentious issue.  Over £120,000,000 was collected in 2015/16 according to a report published by the Press Association.

On the one hand there are the hospitals justifying parking charges as an important revenue source that offset the budget cuts.  While on the other the patients, their families, and their visitors are angry about paying for every visit.

If just some of the waste in the list above was addressed perhaps many hospitals could waive or at least reduce the parking charges.

Further Reading

Why can’t we admit to ourselves that the NHS is one of the most overrated, inefficient systems in the world? – The Independent, April 14th 2017

 

Dakota Access Pipeline – Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee

[easyazon_image align=”right” cloak=”n” height=”500″ identifier=”0099526409″ locale=”UK” src=”/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/51poVaokAyL.jpg” tag=”bensblog888-21″ width=”329″]If you’ve read anything about the history of the American West you’ll know that it’s a long and sad tale of human suffering. Dee Brown’s classic Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West is a compelling account that summarises the history from the arrival of Columbus to the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890.

You may be aware that wars were fought and lost. Treaties were signed and broken. Friends were made and betrayed. The accounts of the massacres will make your blood run cold. The injustices and maltreatment of survivors will make your blood boil.

Perhaps you’ve read nothing but you’ve seen films that give you some idea of the tragedy and betrayal. Dances With Wolves is one such film. For once the cinema had managed to capture something of what we had read in the history books.

We reservations about our reservations

American Indian Teenage Boy PortraitSo you might think that with the Indian Wars receding into history and Native Americans taking their place in American society, politics, business, and culture all is well.

Except it isn’t. In fact, the brutal treatment didn’t end with Wounded Knee.

Once the tribes were defeated militarily they were confined to reservations on what was then regarded as worthless land. The intention was to to provide them with the means to survive but suppliers and middle men ripped them off.

Their remaining children were forced through a schooling system designed to turn them into Americans. They were beaten for speaking their own languages. Their culture, stories, and prayers were forbidden.

Despite all of this the tribes and their cultures endured and survived, though not without many casualties along the way. Alcoholism and suicide on reservations is all too common.

Dakota Access Pipeline

Crow Agency - United States, May 21, 2012: Two headstones mark the location where two Cheyenne warriors were killed on June 25, 1876 while defending their way of life. General George Armstrong Custer and 267 of his men were killed and 55 were injured when attacked by Lakota and Cheyenne warriors.

Headstones mark the location where two Cheyenne warriors were killed on June 25, 1876 while defending their way of life at the Battle of the Little Bighorn

Once again American politics and business is riding roughshod over the Native Americans. The Dakota Access Pipeline is being driven like a lance through the heart of the land.  With comes a high risk of pollution through leaks and spills into the water supply.

They are driving bulldozers through ancient and sacred tribal burial grounds. Can you imagine the outcry if they did that through Arlington Cemetery?

Those who protest are being treated like criminals and private security firms are setting their dogs on them.

However, this outrage has had an unexpected effect. it has united the tribes of the USA in a way that hasn’t been seen for centuries. They are coming from all over the USA and beyond to show their support.

Social media has spread the message far and wide, and the world is watching.  Video footage of the protest and the reaction of those paid to guard the construction sites is there for all to see.

Supporters of the pipeline are well funded.  They are exploiting social media to spread their message too.  They have pointed out that the intended route of the pipeline doesn’t actually traverse any Indian reservations.  Thus they demonstrate their failure to understand how all things are connected.

From an ecological point of view what is over there is connected to what is here. Fences and lines on a map don’t mean a thing.

Leader of the Free World

Native American WomanOn the one hand this this may seem like yet another example of the US government looking the other way while the Indians are abused by a powerful corporation.

But it’s much more than that and it has rallied tribal people and others from all over the USA and beyond.  There is no political agenda.  All people want to do is safeguard their access to clean water.

When I hear the President of the United States referred to as the ‘Leader of the free world’ I can’t help but wonder, “Free from what?  Free for whom?”

Would it be too much to ask that the USA sets an example to the rest of the world?

Give the tribes a break.  Demonstrate to the watching world that you can live up to the principles and ideals that you boast are your bedrock.