UK: Labour government hid ugly truth about National Health Service (NHS)

Lois Rogers
The Sunday Times
7 March 2010

DAMNING reports on the state of the National Health Service, suppressed by the government, reveal how patients’ needs have been neglected.

They diagnose a blind pursuit of political and managerial targets as the root cause of a string of hospital scandals that have cost thousands of lives.

The harsh verdict on the state of the NHS, after a spending splurge under Labour between 2000 and 2008, raises worrying questions about the future quality of the health service as budgets are squeezed.

One report, based on the advice of almost 200 top managers and doctors, says hospitals ignored basic hygiene to cram in patients to meet waiting-time targets…

…The first report, by the Massachusetts-based Institute for Healthcare Improvements (IHI), identified the neglect of patients as a serious obstacle to improving the NHS. “The lack of a prominent focus on patients’ interests and needs … represents a significant barrier to shifting the trajectory of quality improvement in the NHS.”

One heading in the report says: “The patient doesn’t seem to be in the picture.” It adds: “We were struck by the virtual absence of mention of patients and families … whether we were discussing aims and ambition for improvement, measurement of progress or any other topic relevant to quality.

“Most targets and standards appear to be defined in professional, organisational and political terms, not in terms of patients’ experience of care.”…

Read this entire article at The Sunday Times.

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