NHS has more than patients to cure

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Former chancellor of the Exchequor Nigel Lawson’s famous comment, that the National Health Service is the nearest thing we have to a religion, explains why politicians approach any health issue with fear and trembling.

It also explains why, in spite of its many irrationalities and inefficiencies, it must never be doubted, nor suggestions made that the health systems of other nations work better.

Yet the fact is that the creation of the NHS gave hugely excessive power to the “producer interest” (medical staff) and virtually no power to the “consumer interest” (patients).

As the veil of secrecy is removed, we observe that such producer interests are not ­particularly compassionate and that the NHS is by its very nature inflexible and wasteful.

And there is no secret about the origins of the crisis in out-of-hours healthcare – it was the last Labour government’s botched contracts for GPs which should now be revisited.

The deal foolishly gave GPs huge pay rises while allowing them to opt out of evening and weekend work, and was manifestly wide open to unprofessional exploitation.

(Dr) John Cameron

Howard Place

St Andrews

Research has long shown that moving elderly patients between wards increases mortality rates.

When I was a charge nurse I once jokingly mentioned that one way we could deal with the problem of “bed blocking” would be to move the patients every six months to a different ward as approximately 30 per cent of them would die within six months of each move. Problem solved.

Don’t tell Scottish health secretary Alex Neil, though, otherwise he might make it official government policy:

Neil Sinclair

Clarence Street

Edinburgh