Anorak News | Doctor In The House

Doctor In The House

by | 23rd, January 2006

‘ACHY head? Sore throat. Nasty rash? Hmmm… Thought so. You’ve got Dengue Fever. We recommend that you remain in situ for the next week or so, after which time you will be a) just fine; b) dead; or c) suffering from acute Gilbert’s Syndrome.

‘I’m sorry, Mrs Hart, but unless we can find a buyer for your kidney, you can’t afford to be ill’

Don’t bother visiting your doctor. He’s far too busy balancing the books to deal with ill people like you. If you must have a second opinion ask Ted the plumber, who, like us, has been on the Expert Patient Programme course.

This is the future of medicine. The Times says that in places where The Expert Patient Programme has been trialled, hospital visits have been reduced by 16 per cent.

That can only be good news. Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, thinks so. She thinks it’s a great way for hospital trusts to drive down costs.

It’s part of a programme called “self care”. Patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, multiple sclerosis and arthritis learn how to treat themselves and not bother the doctor or the hospital accident and emergency department. The Times says that there are 17 million people in England who suffer from chronic conditions.

But what about mistakes? What if the patient gets it wrong? It could happen. But why worry? Doctors are far from infallible, and it’s not like they do any more than follow a text book. Besides, it’s cheaper to look after yourself. And that is the important thing.

As the Guardian says on its cover page: “NHS told: put money before medicine.”

The paper says that Hewitt is determined to put an end to the “handout culture” that pervades the NHS. Giving the patients what they want on demand is too expensive.

The Guardian has seen the half-year accounts for the quarter of NHS trusts veering into the red in 2005/6 and forecasts a total overspend of £948m by the end of March.

That’s a lot of cash. And Hewitt says it will not do. So the cancer of spending too much money looking after those nuisance patients will be cut out.

It’s a start, but it might not be enough. And for now we can only dream of how much more cost-effective the NHS would be if the desperately ill could just forget to take their medication and disappear for good…’

Posted: 23rd, January 2006 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink