NHS Waiting Lists Hit High Amid ‘Banking’ Comparison

16 August 2013

NHS Waiting Lists Hit High Amid ‘Banking’ Comparison

As NHS waiting times and waiting lists reach increasing heights, a medical journal publication has alleged that the bureaucracy of funding allocation and budget targeting within the organisation has meant the running of the NHS is akin to the manner in which a bank is run-a practice that must be eradicated as a matter of urgency so as to put patients back into focus.

Official figures from NHS England show that the number of patients waiting to be admitted for operations or other treatment in June 2013 was a quarter of a million higher than in the same month in 2012.While the Department for Health insisted that average waiting times had stabilised, Labour claimed that these figures were a direct result of A&E departments being unable to cope with the overflow of patients seeking medical attention and because of staffing cuts to nurses.

An initial report by Monitor, the NHS regulator, was followed by publication of the figures. Monitor initially intimated that the reason there were longer waiting times was because some trusts were cancelling non-emergency procedures to deal with a higher load of emergency cases. This increase in the number of patients on waiting lists was the highest level at June 2013 since May 2008, reaching 2.88 million in June 2013.

Editors of The Lancet publication claimed that the recent £500 million "bail-out" for struggling A&E units and introduction of a price comparison site for NHS managers illustrate how ministers are more worried about financial regulation and economic adjustment than providing a high quality and safe health care system for patients above all else.

"One might be forgiven for thinking that the current Coalition Government views the NHS as a failing bank or business," they wrote in an issue published today.

"This stance is one of the most cynical, and at the same time cunning, ways by which the government abdicates all responsibilities for running a health care system that has patient care and safety at its heart."

Referring to banking and financial tainted terminology like ‘bailouts’ for A&E wards and ‘Bargain Hunt’ cost-cutting initiatives, it opined: ‘One might be forgiven for thinking that the current Coalition Government views the NHS as a failing bank or business.’

‘This stance is one of the most cynical, and at the same time cunning, ways by which the Government abdicates all responsibilities for running a healthcare system that has patient care and safety at its heart.’

Discussing the rise in waiting lists which also broke in news today, Andrew Gwynne MP, shadow health minister, said: “This year, thousands of extra patients are facing the agony of a long-awaited operation being cancelled as overflowing A&E departments need more and more hospital beds.

“David Cameron wasted £3 billion on an NHS reorganisation that took the focus off patient care. At the same time, almost five thousand nursing jobs were axed and cuts to older people's care budgets left thousands more vulnerable people arriving at A&E."

The government, however, maintains that the waiting times and lists are stable A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "The NHS is performing well – it is treating over a million patients a month.

"But despite this average waiting times are low and stable and the number of patients waiting longer than 18 weeks is nearly 55,000 lower than in May 2010, and the number of people waiting for more than a year to start treatment is the lowest it has ever been."

Health Minister Anna Soubry said: "Creating an efficient NHS and one which puts patient care at its heart is in the best interests of patients and is a priority for this Government.

"That is why we are introducing a Chief Inspector of Hospitals who will ensure patient care is a priority throughout the NHS and are encouraging hospitals to become more efficient with their resources so more money can be spent on the front line."

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