Various expensive consultants were commissioned to find out what is wrong with the NHS. A copy of their final report has been leaked to NHS Networks. It concludes that most of the problems we face are our fault.
Here are some of the main findings.
Hospitality acquired infections
NHS people kiss more often than delegates to a French interior design convention. Hugging is also commonplace.
Despite a national programme of office and hospital decontamination and the investment of millions of pounds each year in hygiene education and provision of sterilising wipes and gels in NHS facilities, health professionals exchange saliva and indulge in other unhygienic modes of bodily contact at every opportunity.
There are too many meetings. They take too long. Too many people are involved. Too few have anything useful to say and take too long to say it. Too little gets done as a result. Large meetings can overrun by several hours due to the time wasted in preliminary kissing, subsequent sterilisation and introductions to people who already know each other and work together every day.
Careless talk costs livelihoods
NHS staff feel compelled to talk to patients when all the evidence suggests that it does very little good. The latest official guideline points out that conversation is a hugely wasteful activity with no proven benefit and known side-effects including increased anxiety on the part both of the professional and the patient.
Misleading or erroneous information, such as incorrect diagnosis, could be particularly harmful, resulting in financial liability to the NHS and damage to the reputation of the professional concerned.
Doctors and nurses are advised to feign speech loss or pretend to have taken holy orders involving vows of silence. Studies have shown that eliminating dialogue from consultations can cut treatment times dramatically.
The silent treatment
New NHS approved Silent Treatment Packs have been distributed to primary care providers. These include pre-printed cards with phrases for every situation. For example: “I can’t find anything wrong with you,” “Take two of these every four hours,” “I think we’ll send you to [add name of hospital] to be sure” and “Your test results are back – and the good news is that I won’t need to see you again.”
The QIPP programme promises to reduce overall NHS use of words by 20% by 2015, an ambitious target expected to affect several parts of speech including conjunctions, adjectives and adverbs. Verbs will be retained for the time being, unless it can be clearly demonstrated that the NHS has no further use for “doing“ words.
NHS bodies are also urged to reduce their use of inappropriate capital letters. Unnecessary capitalisation costs the average trust approximately £2bn each year in wasted toner alone. Meanwhile, the global supply of capital letters is declining at a rate of 27% each year, according to the NHS head of fonts, typefaces and lettering resources Helvetica Gutenberg.
Doctors’ leaders have come out strongly against the impact of the decapitalisation initiative on commonly used abbreviations such as RCGP, BMA and GP.
A spokesperson for the BMA’s GP committee described the change as “the thin end of the wedge and yet another example of the steady erosion of doctors’ status, pay and conditions under this government”.
“Doctors train for years to get letters after their names and now we’re expected to settle for smaller ones. We won’t stand for it,” he said.
Government promises urgent action
The government will respond to the report following a period of consultation, details of which will be announced in due course. A national strategy for cultural reform will be drawn up following the results of the consultation, the government’s initial response, feedback from stakeholders, a response to the response and a decision on the final recommendations agreed with all relevant stakeholders and approved by ministers.