Three pence in every pound spent by the NHS is wasted… and that’s according to official government figures. If that’s what the men from the ministry are owning up to then I think we can assume that the real figure is closer to 30 pence in every pound.
Even if we accept the 3p figure as being true, that still represents a staggering £3billion pounds down the sluice every year. However, from my experience visiting my local hospital yesterday I can imagine that the amount of money wasted is far higher.
The hospital’s showy atrium was positively groaning with smarmy management types, sat at the café tables tapping into their laptops, no doubt wasting a bit more time producing even more pie charts to show how the local Trust is winning the battle against hospital acquired infections. Incidentally, my local hospital only has ten wards closed to visitors due to various viral outbreaks this week.
Not only were there armies of administrators sipping on their cappuccini in the atrium, I also noticed during my clinic visit that the number of receptionists has ballooned alarmingly. I waited for almost five minutes for one of the two receptionists to greet me and book me in for my appointment. One of the two ladies was chatting away on the telephone while the other one was attending to the far more important task of making the tea and sorting out the biscuit situation. Occasionally other members of staff would bustle past with pieces of paper in their hands, carrying chits back and forth to the consulting rooms in what looked like some sort of Dickensian paper trail. Overmanning in parts of the NHS seems absolutely criminal in terms of waste and ineffectiveness. Mind you, I wouldn’t say no to a nice cushy job sitting behind a desk and gossiping while drinking is much NHS tea as I want.
The good news is that when I did get to the consultant after an hour of waiting, I was treated with great respect, courtesy and professional competence. It goes to show that parts of the NHS do function well and if we had fewer managers and paper pushers it could be even better.
This morning I’m off for my hydrotherapy session in a department where there are no receptionists, no one carries around paper and people simply get on with their job. Unfortunately, the hospital is considering closing the hydrotherapy pool on cost grounds.