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Column 15th August 2018

Politicians do not seem to see the same NHS as the rest of us

Do the leaders of the NHS live in the same world as the rest of us?

I doubt it, I can’t see many of our MPs or leaders of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) lying on a trolley in a corridor for hours in A&E or waiting months if not years for a hip replacement.

The problems with the NHS are mainly down to lack of staff and lack of funding and that seems to be getting worse.

The staffing problems in Oxfordshire are particularly bad due to the expense of living in the County – one of the most expensive counties outside London - and the lack of an uplift to standard salaries (like the London Weighting).

Lack of funding means that they can’t cope with the peaks in demand anymore and routine operations (like hip replacements) get delayed.

According to a recent report by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), while in the past GPs simply referred patients to specialists for hip and knee surgery and you were put on a list, now there is no guarantee that if they recommend a treatment it will be funded at all.

Doctors have to apply to CCGs for exceptional funding and specific criteria have to be met before patients are referred for certain treatments or procedures.

Last year 1,675 exceptional funding requests by doctors on behalf of their patients (1,188 for knee surgery and 487 for hip surgery) were rejected by CCGs according to data obtained from 167 of England’s 195 CCGs under a Freedom of Information request from the BMJ.

Ian Eardley, senior vice president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said, “Hip and knee surgery has long been shown to be a clinically and cost effective treatment for patients. We are therefore appalled that a number of commissioning groups are now effectively requiring thousands of patients to beg for treatment.”

Commissioners said that ongoing financial pressures in the NHS and the winter crisis meant that knee and hip surgery were cancelled. This had contributed to the rise in patients being refused treatment.

Of course, you can have such surgery privately and although MPs don’t get private health insurance as part of their salary, they are given private cubicles or single rooms in A&E, rather than having to lie in a crowded ward where they could be confronted by members of the public.

I’m sure they wouldn’t be refused surgery and wouldn’t have to go on a waiting list.


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