Monday, April 24, 2006

I can see clearly now...

The current row over whether the NHS needs serious reform reminds me of what happened to my dear old mother a couple of years ago.

In her eighties and living alone, one of her great pleasures in life was reading. As well as mags and newspapers, she would rapidly soak up anything historical or contemporary on the royal family, as well as stacks of slushy novels.

When Mum's eyesight rapidly deteriorated, she was persuaded to go to an optician.

The optician referred her to a specialist at Lincoln County Hospital who diagnosed cataracts and told her she would need an operation in each eye.

Just one problem. The NHS list meant a wait of almost two years.

The specialist then explained there was a quicker way, but it would cost.

Mum couldn't wait two years. So she shelled out a whopping fee of well over £2,000 per eye..and instantly went to the top of the queue.

Of course, it was the same specialist - who had been trained totally at our expense.

He trousered an extra £4k - on top of his NHS salary - for just a few minutes of his time.

Nice work if you can get it.

Thank goodness Mum was able to see again before she died last Christmas. Even if she had to pay - through the nose!

I listened to the Prime Minister today talking about reforms to incentivise consultants to get the waiting lists down.

And I suddenly saw it clearly...

If the reforms to the NHS manage to wipe out the waiting lists, the greedy consultants won't be able to charge a fortune to jump the queue.

With record investment, waiting lists cut dramatically, cancer and heart deaths down and 300,000 EXTRA people working in the NHS than in 1997, I hope the Government pushes on with reform to improve health care - specially if it cuts out some of the greed.

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