6/15/2009

How to waste money NHS style

My mother was due to have an operation today. The operation had been scheduled for some weeks and was to be a "routine" thing, with my mother possibly staying in overnight, but possibly being allowed out today. However, that was before she encountered the mess that is the NHS.

Having arrived early this morning, she was told she was number eight of eight on the list of patients for that particular surgeon. Then she was told there was not bed available, but if she waited, they might be able to find a bed. Note, this was a scheduled operation so why a bed was not ready is slightly mysterious in itself.

So, my mother waited and waited and waited, then was told she could be prepared to be operated on after 5 pm. She had been at the hospital all day, but at least, so she thought, she could expect to have the operation completed. But no. Despite the surgeon and his team of assistants being available and ready to do the operation, the anaesthetist "had to go", meaning the operation was cancelled, the time of the surgeon and his operation team had been wasted, all the tests my mother had done were wasted as was the time by nurses making ready and finding a bed.

What a total waste of time, but it begs the question as to why the anaesthetist was not prepared to to stay and why the hospital does not have another anaesthetist on call ? My wife had a similar problem when giving birth in that no anaesthetist was available. Luckily my son could be delivered naturally, but it was very much feared this would not be the case.

My real real concern today though was why an the NHS be allowed to work in this way. Forget that my mother is retired, but what are the implications for the economy if this is replicated all over the country everyday with hundreds of people taking days of work only for operations to be cancelled. However, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that the real reason that the anaesthetist left early was due to him (or her) needing to be available at the BUPA hospital down the road or for private patients elsewhere ?

3 comments:

Brian E. said...

The NHS is always keen to announce the costs of patients not keeping appointments. It is about time someone worked out the cost to those involved of the NHS not keeping its appointments.
A single lady I know, due to be in hospital for two nights, made all the necessary arrangements. Put the cat into the cattery, arranged with a neighbour to take time off to take and collect her from the hospital, cancelled the milk, etc
After three hours waiting, she was told it is all of for a week, and as her friend is now at work, has to take a taxi home. The whole exercise was repeated tow weeks later, and it was only at the third attempt that she got her operation.
As a pensioner with a small company pension in addition to her state pension, she could ill afford these unnecessary costs, and if, as our local NHS suggests, they should be able to make a charge for "non-shows", the converse must also be accepted, that a patient failing to get treatment should also be compensated.

The Half-Blood Welshman said...

I'm sorry to hear your mother had such a bad experience - hope she's not too upset.

There seems to be a few serious problems of system and procedure in the NHS at the moment. See here for some recent problems a friend and I had. Be warned, this would almost certainly affect your mother's discharge when she finally has her op as well - it is a national thing, I hear similar stories from Gloucester Royal.

Henry North London said...

Having just been in the NHS This is more to do with policies, and the way that they are set in stone and if you dont appear in the policy then heaven help you

There is no room for flexibility in the modern NHS. If you breach a time then you are quite literally f**ked

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