Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Case of the Tripling NHS Waiting Lists

[Whoops!  I originally put Waiting TIMES instead of Waiting LISTS as the title, and in the body, of this post.]

On the way home from work this evening I read this on the Telegraph website:

It reports that after various NHS targets were scrapped by Andrew Lansley, waiting lists seem to have tripled in just one year.  At the time he said:
"We will now have to see whether patients' rights and publishing data are sufficient to prevent waiting times creeping back up."


I'm going to have to interrupt this blog post now to show you this video, which I just found:


Anyway, as I was saying...

Remember when Tony Blair was famously embarrassed on BBC Question Time over GP waiting times?  He had no idea that in order to keep to the 48-hour GP waiting time target, health centres were simply not allowing people to make appointments more than 48 hours in advance, even when patients were simply trying to plan ahead for non-urgent concerns.

As a Maths teacher, I know this pressure well - the pressure to make everything look like targets are being met.  The special preference and extra help routinely given in most schools to those young people who are near the C/D grade borderline, because they matter more to the school's position in the league table.  The way the league tables push the focus towards getting the best possible exam grades rather than educating and nurturing young people.  The afternoon I spent in a previous job re-writing a scheme of work to include references to Every Child Matters for every topic, even though it would have no practical impact in the classroom.

It's not uncommon to hear tell of schools who are less than honest (or worse) about their records, or who help students rather more than they should do.  All so that they can appear to be hitting their targets and/or stand a chance of being awarded that elusive "Outstanding" in their next Ofsted inspection.  (Note: Don't know of anything seriously dodgy in this regard by current employers, if you're wondering.)

This is (partly, at least) the legacy of the New Labour target culture, of top-down targets that bear limited relevance to the real needs of thinking, feeling human beings.

I'd be really interested to know how much of the increase in NHS waiting times is down to staff no longer being under pressure to make everything look like they're meeting the targets, and how much is down to Tories arrogantly trusting that the market will take care of itself.

Because I'm sure it's a combination of the two, and I really want to know just how much I should despise Andrew Lansley.

Oh.  This much:

What a knobber.

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