Thursday, February 18, 2010

Three Doctors & The NHS

“It's a strange irony that it is managers who seem intent on trying to turn us from public servants with a genuine interest in patient care into the money grabbing people the HSJ likes to portray us as. Managers were the ones who essentially forced new contracts onto consultants resulting in our being paid for the very first time (on paper anyway) for all the work that we do. Doctors who were reluctant to move from a professional and vocational contract are now being paid more. Did our masters expect us to be paid less? Perhaps they really did. Perhaps managers just cannot grasp that doctors do whatever is necessary to meet the vital needs of our patients whether we are paid or not. And the same people made similar mistakes with GPs. For it was managers who forced GPs to jump through ever more hoops to be paid - which they promptly did. The BMA dutifully told the government that it would result in their being paid more. But the BMA was not believed. Yet the HSJ continues to distrust them.

Every so often, one comes across someone who puts into the discussion the argument that needs to be put.

One such is Dr Clive Peedle:

The BMA represents 70% of all doctors and the vast majority oppose a market based healthcare system (there are several surveys that prove this). As a member of BMA Council, I and my fellow Council members were mandated to mount a campaign against the market based reforms by several motions passed overwhelmingly at consecutive Annual Representative Meetings (ARM). I also happen to passionately believe that this was the right thing to do. Even Gordon Brown (SMF speech 2004) understands that markets don't work well in some situations and healthcare is one of the best examples of this.

As for big business profiting from the NHS, why not take a look at the Forbes website, Mr Vize:

US companies involved in the NHS (all FESC approved for example):
Current CEO: Michael.B.Mccallister

Compensation 2009: $5 million and has $50 million stock options

CEO: Stephen J Helmsley

Compensation $3 million and stock options worth $660 million
n.b previous CEO, Dr Bill McGuire was involved in $1.6 billion stock options scandal. Please see the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website for more details.

CEO: Ronald A Williams

Compensation 2009: $24 million and stock options worth $170 million
n.b Former Aetna CEO John Rowe earned $175 million in 65 months ($225,000 per day!!)

Here are some further astonishing figures including other top execs (see further down page):  The Industry Radar

The HSJ should be investigating these characters instead of slagging off the BMA. These companies want to expand their markets into the UK and their number one priority is to their shareholders, not the English taxpayer and patients. That is why the BMA is fighting so hard against this.

As for GPs being small businesses, that may be the case, but they are a vitally important part of the communities they serve. Most GP partners work in their practices for their entire working lives and therefore have unprecedented knowledge about their patients and patients' families, which is vitally important for continuity of care. The vast majority are wedded to the ideal of the NHS and most are very innovative. Mr Vize's comments about GP's IT illiteracy are unfounded. In fact, GPs are miles ahead of the hospital sector in terms of successful use of IT.

Poor GP services do need sorting out, but Polyclinics are not the answer. The for-profit GP outfits will try to increase profits by employing cheaper staff on short term contracts. This will have dreadful consequences for continuity of care. It will be the poorest and most vulnerable patients with chronic long term illness who will lose out to the worried well who want to pop into clinic after work, who don't really mind who they see.

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