Virgin on the Ridiculous?

Posted on November 14, 2007. Filed under: Apply topically |

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that even in a government funded health service that money is a key factor to pretty much everything…

…whether we like it or not.

General Practitioners across the UK state they are struggling to fund the running of their surgeries let alone their sports cars!  So it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if large corporate service providers offered location and funding.  What am I gabbling on about?…

Nick Britton of the Telegraph has published an article about GP surgeries being run by companies like the supermarket Tesco’s.  (He also stated another company in his headline – Vigrin!! – trust a journalist to not know enough about virgin’s to be able to spell it!)

I get the feeling that on hearing this people will be deeply concerned. But I find the prospect quite interesting.  Two things sprang to that daft head of mine.  Firstly all the times I’ve heard demoralised nurses saying they would leave nursing and get a job stacking shelves – soon they can, but still work in the same building! Secondly could they find many people willing to take the job description of “Virgin Nurse”?

Virgin Staff Nurse? Surely a myth!

These simple concerns aside, other issues come to mind. From a closer look a “spokesman” said: 

“patients in the city had complained of issues such as opening hours, cleanliness and telephone access, all of which would be standardised in purpose-built centres, instead of the current situation of “Victorian terraces where people are practising medicine in the back room””.

Now to my mind most surgeries are purpose built and since Shipman, the one doctor squeezed into a back room has become less and less evident.  Would these new surgeries just be run by the big corperate names, or actually run in there stores?

I have visions of my consulting room being inside the supermarket…

“Well Mr Jones, it seems you have piles, that reminds me I must just pop out and get some grapes”

Regreting not putting gloves on!

“Ah Miss Smith, sounds like a case of Vaginal Thrush, hmm, perhaps I’ll put that cream cheese back on the shelf”

“Yes Mrs Davies, Breast feeding can lead to mastitis, the Savoy cabbages are on Aisle 3”

Not a lovely pair of cabbages!

Silliness aside (who me?), I think it is an interesting proposal, lets face it nobody can manage a GP budget very well at present, perhaps a large company would do it better, open at more convienient times and in more convienient places.

My concerns however would be that Tesco’s is the Devils supermarket, they focus strictly on profit. They trash the competition by making everything ridiculously cheap, and force the farmers to produce everything cheaper or loose their contracts.  So how would they treat the common all garden GP surgery?  Sure the club card points might pay for the patients petrol, but would they squeeze the very life out of the surgery, less people doing more work, and my biggest concern….

 …would I have to wear that uniform?


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3 Responses to “Virgin on the Ridiculous?”

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It is an appalling prospect!

Elaine – I noticed your email address finishes with!!! They are taking over the woooooooooorld! We’re all dooooooooooooomed!

Having worked in the independent private sector in mental health I’ve yet to see the flaw in healthcare being run as a business and by a business.

I’m not talking your small nursing home shoved in the back of beyond ruraltown hills either. I’ve worked for them too and they’re no better than NHS.

The company I refer to is huge and has changed hand several times on the world stockmarket, so their business can’t be that bad. What’s more annoying is – the NHS is paying for it.

The unit I worked in was managed by a guy who used to sell BMW’s – and I don’t mean at Joe’s Car Lot. Regional marketing director type brass. Probably on 100K ukp plus bonuses. All paid by the NHS.

In my first two years I went on every relevant course – for free – in work time. Every staff member got their 90 minute breaks in their 12 hour shift and every grade got paid an averaqe 3% more than NHS equivalent. The patients had ‘ward funds’ of over 100 ukp per week for any old crap – and it usually was crap; sweets, pizzas, DVD’s. The important stuff was paid for out of ward budgets. Like new TV, pool table, games, Playstation. All paid for by the NHS.

Fully equipped gym and instructor, weekly ward outings, heated swimming pool, people carrier and 3 company cars for staff and for patients, all paid for by the NHS.

They looked after difficult to manage patients that the NHS no longer wanted due to containment problems. Daft thing about that – the nurses were no different to what’s available to the NHS and we didn’t buy in any superduper special medicine. We only had what treatments were just as available to the NHS.

Tho we were subject to tighter scrutiny because of the Registration Authority who gave out the license to run the home.

So why does that sort of place work? Probably because the NHS was willing to pay upto 1000ukp per night per patient.

And the NHS paid it.

But if they can pay that amount of money to place people outside the NHS – why can’t they spend that sort of money on building a decent unit, decent pay and decent management so that it works?

Ongoing costs vs capital costs? False economy syndrome. Until someone decides enough the BS and actually injects the capital money into worthwhile improvements and not just token fix-ups from election to election, there will be no improvement that can keep up with service demand.

This unit was built to make a profit… and it did; a huge profit annually. And not once do I recall a patient suffering badly for it. And the NHS paid for it.

No wonder the NHS can’t even break even.

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