nhs scrutiny

Cost of running the NHS put under the spotlight

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The National Health Service is a resource which millions of us find useful for one reason or another. Whether it’s for supplying us with life-saving medication, emergency operations or round-the-clock care while undergoing treatment for serious illness, without it, many of us would be lost, but in this climate of austerity, the way in which money is spent is being scrutinised more than ever.

The NHS receives billions in government funds each year in order to provide the care necessary to help keep us healthy, but could it actually be wasting money? According to a survey by First4Lawyers, 65% of patients believe that the NHS is wasting money, and some stories which have circulated in the media suggest it’s easy to see where it’s being frivolously spent.

Paying for their mistakes

One of the most eye-popping stats about what the NHS does with the money given to it by the taxpayer comes from London. The Evening Standard revealed that a massive £470,000 a day is spent on medical negligence claims, suggesting that in the capital at least, a lid hasn’t been kept on the seemingly expensive problem of dangerously substandard healthcare.

50% of people surveyed on their perceptions of the state of the NHS today said they think that complaints arising from the standard of hospital care are down to staff being overworked. With the NHS under pressure to get greater value for money, the wages of many staff such as nurses and junior doctors are being squeezed further, while overworking could be as a result of job cuts.

Ineffective treatment?

A lot has been made of the use of alternative treatments such as herbal medicine and acupuncture, especially in relation to pain and symptom relief. However, the statistic that £25m has been spent on acupuncture alone suggests a lot of misplaced faith in something that’s deemed to be less successful in treating illness as more conventional medication.

It might seem like a relatively small amount, especially when considering that the NHS budget in total amounts to hundreds of billions of pounds, but £25m could be enough to keep at least 1,000 nurses in employment. That amount could also be used to pay for tried-and-tested medication instead of acupuncture and the like.

More waste

On the subject of cutting staff numbers, the £1.4bn spent on redundancy payments is very pressing. As well as depriving the NHS of many experienced and talented members of staff who made direct contributions to helping patients make swift and full recoveries, the money paid for redundancies could have paid for either several new hospitals or to keep them on for a few months at least.

Wasting money is nothing new as far as the NHS is concerned. Back in 2011, the £12bn IT project devised by the previous Labour government was scrapped. This left the current government with a huge deficit to make up. That and many more examples act as proof that the NHS and those running it could be a little more astute with the money they have.

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