NHS red tape

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I would like to congratulate Alex Massie for his article about Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust Hospital (Perspective, 24 May).

He uses it as an example of a hospital run by the private sector outperforming others run by the public health service.

There are a few points I would like to make. Hinchingbrooke is a district general hospital (223 beds). Eleven of the 15 members of the hospital board are clinicians still working in the clinical field.

Two non-clinicians are the treasurer, who has appropriate financial skills, and the estate manager, who also has appropriate qualifications.

Having eliminated the cumbersome NHS bureaucracy, it is not surprising that the financial situation has improved.

The whistleblower channel is also very good at encouraging people with evidence of poor or dangerous work to bring the subject to the top management in confidence.

In fact, Hinchingbrooke is very like the many very well-managed district general hospitals that used to pepper the country until the bureaucracy instituted by Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher started to strangle the NHS.

What is not said is how 
much funding Hinchingbrooke receives from the NHS. There are suggestions that the “clinical” managers may not have very good people management skills and suffer from a “hectoring senior management style” that will soon need more staff to absorb the stress.

This will need more money. The financing is 50.1 per cent owned by hedge funds and 
49.9 per cent by the clinicians, who must be quite wealthy to find this amount of money.

I wonder if the report by Alex Massie is possibly a bit optimistic. After all, it has only been functioning for two years.

I wish it luck, but other NHS hospitals could also function as well if they could also get rid of the cloying, discouraging management that has developed since Margaret Thatcher started to drive a totally inappropriate management system on to the NHS.

(Dr) Evan Lloyd

Belgrave Road

Edinburgh