Thursday, 27 August 2009

The NHS in the media

For a while now, there’s been something that’s been baffling me about NHS stories in the media. People I meet think that the NHS is awful and slag it off and it routinely gets a pasting in the media about how bad it is and about how low the standards of care are etc… etc… On the front page of today’s Telegraph, they were at it again.

'Cruel and neglectful' care of one million NHS patients exposed
One million NHS patients have been the victims of appalling care in hospitals across
Britain, according to a major report released today

However, this doesn’t tally with my experience from the “inside.” Just about every single day, my patients and their relatives thank me and tell me I’m doing a good job. I have a growing collection of thank-you letters from patients and their relatives. The vast majority of patients on the ward seem very happy and very grateful for the care that they are getting. This isn’t just my experience either.

The Care Quality Commission’s patient survey says that 93% of patients thought that their care was “good” or “excellent” and just 2% though it was poor. Put another way, a massive 98% or out patients were satisfied with their treatment. What other organisation, public or private, can boast 98% satisfaction from it’s customers? Your bank? Your electricity company? Your plumber? Your mechanic? Your restaurant? Your hairdresser?

When the Yellow Pages found that a mere 84% of its customers were satisfied, they used it to front a huge advertising campaign. When you put it into context and realise that hospitals do far more difficult and complex things than say a builder or and water company, you start to realise that the NHS is truly amazing. Admittedly, it’s not perfect. 2% is 2% too much and there are definitely improvements still to be made, but, looking at the big picture, it’s pretty damn good.

So why do the media keep running these stories that say the opposite? Why have The Patients Association come out with this “report” of theirs?

I’ve done a little investigating and it’s been very revealing indeed. A look at the list of The Patients Association’s backers proves very interesting.

BMI Healthcare. MediRest. Cardinal Health, The Harley Medical Group, Virgin Healthcare etc… etc… Basically, it's a list of private healthcare companies and pharmaceutical companies.

Now, I’m not saying that The Patients Association is merely a front for private healthcare companies. Nor am I saying that private healthcare companies are using The Patients Association as their mouthpiece to the media in order to slag off the NHS. All I’m saying is now I know where these anti-NHS stories are really coming from, and why the media do not reflect the experience of the overwhelming majority of our patients.


brokenangel said...

Great post hope you dont mind me linking to it. If you do just comment and ill remove the link

GrumpyRN said...

Yes, isn't it strange that we in the front line seem to get an awful lot of people saying thank you and giving us cards and chocolates.

Rachel said...

It makes me sad to read these articles. I'd like to see the patients association follow this up with 16 storys where NHS staff went above and beyond the call of duty (as so often they do), or simply some stories where patients have recieved the excellent care that so many of them do...
Is it any wonder why moral in the NHS is so low and staff sickness is so high when this is what we hear all the time!

Anonymous said...

Er Michael you work in ITU where the nurse:patient ratios are excellent. Similar experiences are found in CCU where staffing is adequate. In the medical wards however, i would not doubt that the experience can be quite poor for patients. Surgical wards are probably not so bad as many patients often have lower care requirements.

Lazy Medic said...

Good post and good for pointing that out. I've been a reader of your blog for a long time. x

The Hippocratic Oaf said...

I really don't know what to make of it all. Granted, I've had only limited exposure to hospital medicine so far, but reading around there seems a great mixture of views. The Jobbing Doctor seemed to find the report more agreeable, citing his experiences as an HCA when he was a medical student (albeit in the 1970s).

However, watching the Patients Association on the news left me with a sensationalist unease. When you point out the number of private healthcare backers, it does seem strangely reminiscent to that of the American healthcare lobbyists.

As you say, I am sure that the majority of patients receive adequate care.

Amela Jones said...

Do you subscribe to any other websites about this? I'm struggling to find other reputable sources like yourself

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