Your article headlined “How to save the NHS, according to those in the know” (6 January) is intended to be helpful but is hindered by seeking the views of those who, unfortunately, really do not seem to know what the NHS does on a daily basis. People by and large don’t get ill because of what they do or don’t do and they certainly won’t avoid illness by developing a coaching relationship with a GP. Your contributors have a palpable lack of understanding about what it is to be ill through no fault of your own. People will always get ill and every one of us will die. No one can prevent this and pretending that we can through genomics, big data or a Fitbit is idealistic nonsense.
All the policies that could lead to a healthier population would rely on big brave political decisions, which is why they will never happen. In the meantime, please spare us from another genius structural reorganisation and we will just keep going, seeing patients at 10-minute intervals and trying to help them as best we can with a bit of humanity.
While looking at the causes of the NHS crisis, one important aspect has been omitted – the amount of money that is available but going to the wrong places. Since March 2016 over £21m has been spent on private management consultants for the NHS (clearly not value for money in terms of results!). Lewisham and Greenwich Hospital Trust in south-east London is being forced to give £48m to a PFI contractor to repair “cost-cutting construction problems” which this contractor caused when building the new Queen Elizabeth hospital, Woolwich (making a tidy and continuing profit of course!).
More recently, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Trust in central London has (secretly) conjured up £300m to give to the US firm Johnson and Johnson to partially build and help run a state-of-the-art elective orthopaedic centre which is certainly not a priority, is most probably an empire-building move and may put Lewisham hospital under threat of closure (again) if this takes away its orthopaedic work.
Yes, the NHS needs far more money when its own rate of inflation is 4% – but we are wasting a heartbreaking amount of what is available.