Journalist David Smith wrote in his piece for The Times that “a cash injection alone won’t cure the NHS.” And I have to agree with him. There’s no lump sum of money that can solve the current crisis facing our National Health Service, the cure is multi-layered and complex, but certainly achievable.
The NHS is facing its worst winter crisis for 30 years. There have been record waiting times for treatment, and hospitals have just recorded their worst ever performance rates for A&E departments. Politicians are quick to jump on the idea that there is a set figure of money that can act like a magic wand to solve the problem and improve the service – but those of us who work in the field know there is much more to it than that.
David Smith outlined a five-pronged strategy, which he thinks could legitimately solve the NHS crisis:
- Taxing more
- Borrowing more
- Rationing more
- Charging users more
- Introducing genuine efficiency improvements
(You can read his full article here: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/david-smith-a-cash-injection-alone-wont-cure-nhs-ills-swn5v99mh)
It is the fifth option that speaks profoundly to me. Of his five alternatives, introducing genuine efficiency improvements is the most sustainable.
A root-and-branch review would demonstrate areas of clinical practice where advances already in use in the private sector could be introduced in the NHS, saving significant time and money while giving patients a positive outcome.
My own discipline, innovative Regenerative Medicine, has the potential to delay or even prevent the need for joint replacement surgery. The NHS is still using surgical techniques that are, in many cases, unnecessary and expensive.
A freedom of information request shows that in London alone, hospital trusts carried out 5,626 knee replacement operations in 2016-17, with an average waiting time of 114 days; and 5,215 arthroscopy procedures, with an average waiting time of 113 days.
Imagine multiplying that across the country. Freeing up time and resources by changing approach will have a beneficial effect on patients and waiting lists.