I am angry with NHS wastefulness. Perhaps I should go join the Taxpayer's Alliance? Eh, nice idea, but I don't want to stop all benefits ever and force disabled people into workhouses.
My anger started about a week ago. In 2004 I was referred to the surgical appliances dept at the Royal Free for a splint for my wrist. There was a smattering of wastefulness about my referral: GPs are not considered intelligent enough to refer patients directly to SA, my GP had to refer me to orthopaedics for them to refer me to get a splint. Which seems like a waste of my time and NHS money for me to have to see an orthopod I didn't need to see. But it was a one-off ortho appt, they referred me downstairs to surgical appliances and discharged me from ortho.
Last year I saw an orthopod at UCH about my broken foot. As The Boss promised during the appointment from hell two months later I was indeed referred to orthotics for inserts into my shoes.
"Surgical appliances" and "orthotics" are two different names for exactly the same department. One hospital uses one name, the other uses the other. So, yep, I'm a patient at exactly the same department at two different hospitals. Common sense would indicate that I should perhaps get my details sent from one hospital to the other so I can have all my supporting needs met in one place: Saving my time, and most crucially, taking up only 50% of the orthotics appointment slots therefore costing the NHS only 50% of the current cost. So last week I tried to arrange for that to happen.
Of course that would be far too sensible. I enquired about the possibility and was told that both hospitals have a policy of not issuing orthotics unless they've been prescribed by an orthopod from that hospital. So thanks to stupid policies I need to have twice as many appointments as I would need if the stupid policies didn't exist, costing the NHS twice as much.
The word is "fail".
Then I started reading about the ten23 campaign. A sort of great idea. I say "sort of" because I can't help but feel that the campaign is somewhat misguided. They are aiming their "stop being so stupid" at Boots when elsewhere on the site they have this fact:
In the UK, the NHS spends around £4million every year on homeopathy and the British government supports four NHS Homeopathic Hospitals - Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool and London. What's more over 400 GPs in the UK regularly refer patients to homeopathic clinics. With homeopathy having been conclusively proven to work no better than placebo, there is no place for it in the National Health System, and no reason to support it with money that would otherwise be used to support real, proven treatments with genuine efficacy.
So, yeah, can't help but feeling that the campaign would be more worthwhile if it was aimed at stopping the NHS wasting money on homoeopathy rather than stopping Boots from selling homoeopathic "remedies". Because I care how the NHS spend their money, how A. N. Other spends his or her money down the chemists really doesn't bother me.
And then today I read this article from The Independent: The ex-gay files: The bizarre world of gay-to-straight conversion (yeah I know it was published eight days ago, I'm a bit slow).
It transpires during the sessions that she gets most of her clients through an NHS GPs' surgery near her home. She says they refer people to her for treatment for their homosexuality.
Yep, NHS money is being wasted on "treating" homosexuality, even though -- as the article recognizes -- homosexuality was removed from the DSM 36 years ago.
The NHS will happily spend twice as much money on orthotics appointments than is needed, they will happily spend millions on treatments proven to not work, they will pay for "treatments" proven to cause more harm than good, but what they won't pay for is a kidney cancer drug proven to extend life.
The NHS is a hot political topic at the moment, so why aren't the political parties all promising to stop pissing NHS money down the drain?
So I'm busy being angry. And having to go to more orthotics appointments than I need to. Grr.
Edit 21/02/10: The end to NHS homeopathy may be in sight!