I found Richard Blackedge’s report on the plans of the recently-created NHS Shefffield Commisioning Group to cut emergency admissions to hospitals very disturbing.
Richard quotes the chair of the Group, Dr Tim Moorhead, as claiming that the figures are not targets. What other word adequately describes putting numbers and cost reduction before the needs of patients?
The group have decided they will “slash” emergency admissions by as many as 16,000 a year; cut non-urgent outpatient appointments by 40 per cent and follow-up appointments by an alarming 80 per cent. Dr Moorhead is quoted as saying that more patients will be assessed on arrival at hospital to ensure they need to be admitted. This, he claims, will prevent people ending up on wards for weeks when they don’t need to. I am sure that I’m not the only one who doesn’t recognise this description of hospital admissions policy.
I suspect that the Government has chosen GPs to chair commissioning groups because they are the only professionals in the health service who have enough spare time. At one time, GPs would follow up their surgeries with a couple of hours of home visits and, in some cases, a stint at their local hospital. Nowadays, your chances of getting an appointment to see a doctor in less than three days are pretty small. Do we really want this to be emulated in hospitals?