22nd Sept 2012
The National Cancer Intelligence Network reports that 1/4 of patients are only eventually being diagnosed when seriously ill in casualty which can have a disastrous impact on their survival chances.
Sara Hiom, of Cancer Research UK and one of the authors of the study states: "Our findings showing the sheer numbers of cancer patients first seen as an emergency are startling.
"Early diagnosis of cancer, when the most effective treatments are more likely to be options, helps improve a patient's chance of surviving their disease."
Professor Jane Maher, chief medical officer at Macmillan Cancer Support, added: "This route to diagnosis can have a disastrous impact on survival chances."
The reason why NHS GP's are not referring patients with cancer symptoms can be put down to GP's putting profit before patients as a Channel 4 Investigation during 2011 revealed (summarised below). The key problem is that following the implementation of NHS GP Consortia's, GP Practices primary twin focus is -
a. To only refer patients to healthcare providers that will profit the GP consortia's via commission payments.
b. To avoid /delay referrals so as to generate under spends in the GP consortia's so that these under spends can be paid out as dividends to Consortia partners (GP's). This even extends to patients being lied to that referrals have been made when in reality no referral has actually been actioned, with the GP practice hoping that the patient will eventually end up in A&E rather than the GP practice / consortia covering the costs for making the referral and resulting treatment.
Therefore the policy of putting profits before patients is resulting in GP's playing pass the parcel with patients so as to avoid spending budgets on treating patients. This is why cancer amongst many illnesses are not being referred by GP's but only being diagnosed on admission to Hospital A&E casualty units after illnesses have progressed towards the latter stages thus making the survival chances far poorer resulting in greater cost to the NHS and and poorer quality of life. Unfortunately this is indicative of a fundamental flaw at the core of the NHS that there is no competition for patients between GP's that continue to operate as protected local monopolies thus in a race to the bottom of who can generate the most profit by offering the least service to patients.
During 2011 a Channel 4 News investigation charged NHS Doctors with the subversion of the the coalitions governments NHS reforms to result in NHS doctors pocketing all of the cash saved as a consequence of the NHS reforms, which matches my own analysis of a year earlier that the Coalition Governments proposed reforms were fatally flawed in that they allowed GP's to profit from patient care.
"Your doctor making a profit out of your health care, your GP Sending you to a clinic that he or she owns shares in, we are seeing the biggest shake up of the NHS in its history, Channel 4 news can reveal tonight that there is nothing on the legislation currently before parliament to prevent the outcome no one wants, doctors putting profit before the care of patients, in our special report tonight we show how the new arrangements will create fundamental conflicts of interest potentially harming the trust at the very heart of the doctor patient relationship". Channel 4 News
Channel 4 News investigation key points:
Under the previous Labour government patients were treated as credit cards to swipe in and out of door ways as fast as possible to maximise profits. Under the Coalition government patients will now become cash cows to milk to the fullest extent possible, what's best for the health of patients won't even factor into the thought process during GP consultations - "If I send Patient X to Clinic Y for Operation Z, my consortia will earn a commission of £2,000".
Sheffield NHS GP Consortia's Example
The city of Sheffield illustrates how the implementation of Coalition government reforms is proving to result in the exact opposite anti-competitive consortia's, as virtually all of the Sheffield NHS 92 GP Practices have signed up with one of of 4 geographically located GP Consortia's.
The NHS GP reforms being implemented are pushing towards the worst of both worlds, i.e. no market competition and unprecedented GP control over NHS funds that in significant part will be funneled into the back pockets of NHS GP's via Consortia profits being paid out as dividend to GP partners and eventual huge windfall profits as consortia's are floated onto the stock market.
The NHS Health Credit Card Solution
The race to the bottom can only be be ended if there is real patient choice, not only for GP's but also hospitals and other health institutions right across the country where treatment is sought which requires real reform of the whole NHS health care system from diagnosis to treatment of all patients . An important element would be to place the power to purchase healthcare into the hands of the patients by means of an NHS Health Credit Card system, that enables patients to purchase health services from any GP practice or hospital regardless of whether it falls under the NHS umbrella or is fully private, so that both patients and health practitioners would be fully aware of the financial transaction involved in the purchase of the health service, which is set against the current system where patients are made to feel that they may be wasting the GP's time so are easily put off by the practiced dismissive attitude of most GP's during initial consultations, which means the medical condition of patients reaches a far more serious state and this proved more costly for the NHS to treat.
Patients would have a choice of covered core treatments for illnesses or injuries, where they would have the option of paying to top up treatments with their own money depending on the institution that they seek to purchase treatment from, or for other extra's including IVF etc. This would have the effect of reducing the cost of the NHS whilst introducing greater efficiency into the NHS as the majority of patients would only choose those health service institutions that are ranked as delivering a good service. The NHS Health credit card would revolutionise the way healthcare is delivered in the UK, much as supermarkets revolutionised food delivery and choice during the 1980's, as heath supermarkets would spring up all across the country that would maximise efficiency and standardise quality of service delivery as they competed to offer a wider range of health services than anything a bureaucratic top down health care system could ever hope to provide.
The health care credit card system could be further enhanced by workers directly contributing to their health care plans that they can claim upon to purchase 'extra' services at a later date, much as workers today contribute into private pension schemes.
The impact of this would be to greatly REDUCE the cost to taxpayers whilst at the same time delivering better health services, a win, win outcome for the people of Britain as opposed the current system of an out of control unproductive £130 billion National Health Service that attempts to mask failure to deliver with phony statistics and propaganda of a "free for all service" that does not match real patient experience.
The bottom line is that patients are being forced to pay twice for healthcare, once through high extortionate taxes for their NHS GP practices and then again to pay for competent private GP consultations as the alternative would be to die prematurely. We will only truly find out the extent of what amounts to fraud perpetuated on tax payers many, many years from now just as it took many years for the banking sector LIBOR and other frauds to be revealed.
By Nadeem Walayat
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Nadeem Walayat has over 25 years experience of trading derivatives, portfolio management and analysing the financial markets, including one of few who both anticipated and Beat the 1987 Crash. Nadeem's forward looking analysis focuses on UK inflation, economy, interest rates and housing market. He is the author of three ebook's - The Inflation Mega-Trend; The Interest Rate Mega-Trend and The Stocks Stealth Bull Market Update 2011 that can be downloaded for Free.
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