PEH savings too big to be dismissed
Monday 28th October 2013, 4:00PM GMT.
FEW reports commissioned by the States, if any, can have been released with more of a raspberry than a trumpet fanfare.
As an exercise in transparency, HSSD is to be commended for publishing such a highly critical report largely intact. Sadly, the views of disgruntled, under-pressure and frustrated staff have been taken out but it is largely a warts and all demolition of how health services are provided in the island’s hospital.
That is not to say that care in the PEH is anything less than excellent. The report’s authors make it clear that they found no reason to question the standards of treatment. What they did take issue with was the exorbitant price.
In essence, the contracts with both the specialists and the GPs are costing the island a fortune. While fully trained nurses are run ragged because too few are employed – to the extent that admin and ancillary staff do nursing work – the MSG contract gives the specialists the whip hand over hospital staff and equipment.
The result, the report says, is that the taxpayer foots the bill while consultants say when and how patients are to be treated.
So if a day patient is booked in by MSG for an operation at the end of the day, PEH staff have to find a bed for the night, all at HSSD’s expense. If a surgeon fancies trying out an expensive new medical procedure it is the hospital that buys the equipment without questioning its worth.
For the report’s authors there are only two solutions: employ the consultants directly at the PEH or run the whole hospital at arm’s length as an independent contractor.
These are radical ideas. Too radical, it seems, for HSSD’s current board who could not wait to dismiss the review – ‘it is difficult to rely on any of its conclusions with any great confidence’.
But can the island afford to be so quick to rule out change? If we want a gold-plated service and are willing to pay through the nose for it then let’s make that a conscious decision.
The report may well have been short of good data and time but who supplied that data?
For the chance to save enough money each year to run both St Sampson’s Infants and St Andrew’s Primary for a decade it is surely worth as full an investigation as is possible.