Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Is this really the best way to run a health service?

I have been striving to achieve a zen-like state since Christmas. I have has lots of sleep - Tom has developed a penchant for lying in until after eight o'clock - and feel like I can face the world with a degree of calm and a level of rational thought that tended to escape me in 2006.

Then I watched a report about this on the BBC this morning, described on their website thus:
'Controversy over child referrals'

GP's here have been sent a letter detailing the cost of referring children to the local hospital.

It asks whether any of this could be done more cost effectively.

The letter says the trust spent £1.5 million referring children to the local hospital last year

It points out that 79% were discharged within a day and goes on to say "this area of activity was one which was likely to achieve cost savings"

It doesn't take much of a leap of imagination to take the same view as GP Eric Rose, quoted in the article as saying:

"I think if you're fairly new to the job, you're impressionable, you're given the impression that you're referring unreasonably - you might think again."

"I think it's potentially dangerous. It would only take one child that should go to hospital not to be sent to hospital and for there to be a tragedy and I think there would be a lot of questions asked."

I wonder if something similar had been received by our GP. We took Tom to him the day before he was admitted to hospital with pneumococcal meningitis.

We were sent home.

Depending on your measure of a tragedy we either narrowly escaped one (our boy is still here) or fell victim (he remains profoundly deaf) in a manner not unlike that described by Dr. Rose.

A measure of balance (one that drives my wife a little bit mad) reminds me that meningitis, along with many childhood illnesses, is notoriously difficult to diagnose - there are enough desperate stories of children dying after misdiagnosis in paediatric A & E departments to illustrate that - but does putting pressure on GPs to think financially as well as medically when making such decisions really make sense... to anyone?

No comments: