Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Does the NHS have to cut the frontline?

The NHS has had its budget ringfenced, meaning no cuts in spending. However stories are starting to emerge, such as this one from Nick Robinson, suggesting that because NHS funding won't continue to go up at the phenomenal rates that it has over the past 13 years, hospitals will have to start making cuts of up to 12 %, and obviously this means less nurses and doctors.

Except it doesn't have to. I've spent this morning sat in the cafe at Warwick Hospital, whilst my wife has her gallbladder removed in the Day Surgery Unit. Whilst sat here I've noticed that on every table there's a little pop-up notice about the NHS pension choice packs that apparently all members of the NHS pension scheme over 50 on 1st October 2009 will soon be receiving.

So what's this got to do with cutting the frontline. Well inside this pack there will be:

  • A Pension Choice statement
  • The NHS Pension Choice Guide
  • The NHS Pension Choice Guide DVD featuring financial educator Alvin Hall and ITN news reader Faye Barker
Yes that's right, the NHS produced a DVD featuring two "celebrities", who I somehow doubt did it for free, to help NHS staff make a difficult decision about what to do with their gold plated public sector pension.

When we talk about NHS spending it's important to remember that such a lot of it goes on things like this, all coming from the NHS Business Services Authority. The NHS doesn't just spend money on nurses and doctors, drugs and MRI scanners, there's a lot of this too, that can easily be cut out without affecting the frontline.

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  1. i think you're being a bit simplistic when talking about celebrities presenting this dvd. The NHS has 1.5 million employees comprising of a diverse range of people from consulting surgeons down to porters. When communicating with this vast business there is value in cutting through. Getting your point across. Actually getting noticed. If someone has credibility in a particular field, even in a celeb sense, it's invaluable in getting that message read by more employees. When dealing in numbers such as this the metric is not about the cost of the communication itself but surely about the cost per person who reads it. You could save a couple of grand by using , say the head of pensions (probably a grey sort of chap who's a bit boring), but you'll porbably have to send the message a few times to drive it home. So where's the saving? To me this seems like an easy target when the real issues of cutting cost in an outfit the size of this are far more complex.

  2. Good to see them blowing money on such things when actual "stopping people dying" services are being underfunded and cut left and right.