Why Britain might love its socialised healthcare to death

The National Health Service combines local heritage, British fair play and free, good-quality healthcare with the employment of more than one million people in England alone. That gives the NHS enormous popularity – and also makes it very difficult to reform.

Originally published on Beacon.

Continue reading “Why Britain might love its socialised healthcare to death”

Subeditor twisting my melon: Manchester headlines, get over the Smiths

It is a subeditor’s truth quite often acknowledged that articles about Greater Manchester, or about bands from the city, must shoe-horn in a song title or lyric from a Mancunian band. That’s fine, but for some reason, that band is almost always the Smiths, which broke up in 1987. This must change. Anyone would assume that all subeditors are miserablists. Continue reading “Subeditor twisting my melon: Manchester headlines, get over the Smiths”

Reporting the local NHS: credit where it’s due

The National Union of Journalists has started a campaign to support reporting of health and the NHS, especially in the local and regional media. It’s a good choice – and there’s a good article about it in the NUJ magazine The Journalist (starts on page 14), with contributions from Shaun Lintern, who covered Mid Staffordshire relentlessly for the Express and Star, and now works for Health Service Journal.

As one of my colleagues at EHI says, the NHS isn’t national. She also says it doesn’t deal with health and doesn’t provide much of a service, but leaving that aside, the point is that the health service is essentially local: you are normally cared for by your local GP, then your local NHS trust (or board, in Scotland and Wales). Trusts and boards vary greatly in quality – some are brilliant, a few are awful, many are somewhere in between. Continue reading “Reporting the local NHS: credit where it’s due”

Hospital charities fight to raise funds as giving slows in austerity Britain

Charities supporting hospitals are finding new ways to reach out to donors as traditional cash cows dry up

In ‘A journey to… let’s not go there’ in his most recent book Holidays in heck, American journalist PJ O’Rourke writes about being treated for cancer. (For those who don’t know O’Rourke, the fact that his many books include Republican party reptile should give you a clue that he comes at things from a right-wing perspective, although that’s less important than him being very funny and perceptive.) He feels concern about the quality of his medical care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Centre – he has reaonable insurance, but what happens to those who don’t, he asks the centre’s press officer?

We’re a charitable institution. No one will ever be refused care here. On the other hand, we have to keep the lights on. We do try to find any possible means of payment – government programs, private insurance, et cetera.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock finds that 60% of patients who think they aren’t eligible for assistance are, but offers discounts and payments plans – and gave away $63m of treatment in 2007. Continue reading “Hospital charities fight to raise funds as giving slows in austerity Britain”

Salford Royal Hope building: a hospital that looks like a design hotel/art gallery

Salford Royal NHS foundation trust makes damaging fewer of its patients its priority (in other words, it aims to be safest trust in the NHS). But when visiting last week for the day job, I noted that ‘having a hospital that looks like a design hotel or art gallery’ had also been added to the to-do list.

Interviewing trust IT bosses for EHI Intelligence means visiting a lot of NHS hospitals. While special places in many ways, they tend to look functional rather than beautiful. As previously discussed, the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham is gleaming and full of light, like a really nice shopping mall. But while I knew Salford Royal was proud of its new Hope building – which was a construction site when I last visited two years ago (it opened in autumn 2011) – I wasn’t expecting it to be cool. Continue reading “Salford Royal Hope building: a hospital that looks like a design hotel/art gallery”