Health board needs changed
Dear Editor The problems of NHS Tayside are much in the news and we have the usual pleas for more money to be thrown at the service.
I have nothing but praise for the help I have received from NHS Tayside over the years – from my GP surgery and all its staff and from all the doctors, nurses and auxiliary staff at Perth Royal Infirmary and Ninewells.
There are no problems there.
The problems lie with the way the NHS is organised, not just in Tayside, but throughout the country.
The service is short of money for patient treatment and medical staff and equipment provision because too much cash goes to pay the salaries of managers and the huge bureaucracy.
Medical staff’s time is also taken up unnecessarily by paperwork generated by the bureaucrats and by the frequent meetings called by managers, thus reducing the time they can spend with patients and increasing the need for more staff.
Under the present system, medical staff are under constant stress, thus adding to the crisis with the need for time off to recover and the ever-present danger of mistakes being made because of overwork.
What the NHS needs is not more money, but the correct use of the financial resources they already have.
Radical reform is needed, with doctors and nurses being put back in charge – not managers.
In every branch of the NHS – hospitals, clinics, GP surgeries - there should be a return to the old system where managers were subordinate to medical staff, with, for example, medical superintendents and matrons regaining their rightful place at the top of hospital hierarchies.
Managers are necessary, but not nearly so many as we now have and in similar roles to those of managers in the past - in charge of hospital offices, helping to run the administrative side of GP practices and so forth.
One doctor complained recently in a letter to a newspaper that there were now more managers than doctors in the hospital where he worked. And they do not come cheap. Not only are their numbers increasing, but their salaries take up a substantial share of the NHS budget.
With doctors and nurses back in charge, patient care would again be the priority, not form-filling and attending meetings.
A massive reduction in the numbers of managers would go a long way towards solving the NHS’s financial problems and towards reducing doctors’and nurses’ stress levels.
Medical staff would no longer be deserting the service in droves, but would be happy to continue working much longer than many do now.
That would be another saving because early golden handshakes and pension payments add to the service’s financial burden, while the problem is compounded by the need to hire locum staff at exorbitant rates.
The sooner we abandon the present wasteful NHS set-up, the better for all concerned – except perhaps the many managers made redundant - but we can live with that. George K. McMillan Mount Tabor Avenue Perth