What is the REAL problem that faces the NHS?

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have a ‘healthy’ (excuse the pun) scepticism of the National Health Service (NHS). Many readers will wonder how I could possibly criticise the National Health Service in the UK. Well I’m sorry, but the NHS has many deep-rooted management problems which will never be solved while many members of the British public suffer from ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ syndrome, saying how wonderful the NHS is publicly, and refusing acknowledge genuine criticisms, even when they are backed with empirical evidence.
If you ask someone publicly what they think of the NHS, they will usually give glowing tributes. But they are literally SCARED to say what they really think. When asked in an anonymous survey, the British public give a totally different picture of what they really think of the NHS.
Newly published research shows that public satisfaction with the NHS is actually at its lowest level for a decade, despite the UK Government’s promised £20.5 billion per year funding boost.
Only half of the people surveyed (53%) said they were happy with how the NHS is run, the lowest level since 2007. It is 16% lower than in 2010, when the previous government’s austerity programme began.
Satisfaction with General Practitioner (GP) services has also fallen to its lowest level. Fewer than two-thirds (63%) of people in Britain said they were happy with their GP, while 24% said they were dissatisfied. Patient frustration with lengthening waits for GP or hospital appointments is the main reason for the increasingly widespread disillusionment. But about half of people in Britain also believe the NHS has too few staff and too little money to provide a decent service.
The research was carried out in the British Social Attitudes Survey, carried out by the National Centre for Social Research. The NHS experts who analysed the results said they were confused about why satisfaction with the running of the NHS continued to decline in 2018, given the extra money the Government promised last June as a ‘gift’ to mark its 70th birthday on 5th July.
“We didn’t see the ‘birthday bounce’ that you might have expected in satisfaction,” said Ruth Robertson, a senior fellow at the King’s Fund, which undertook the analysis alongside the Nuffield Trust.
She continued: “Despite the outpouring of public affection around the NHS’s 70th birthday and the funding boost, public satisfaction with how the NHS is run now stands at its lowest level in over a decade.”
The results are based on responses by 3,000 people in England, Scotland and Wales when asked about the NHS and social care. The interviews were carried out between July and October 2018 and the results were published last week.
“The findings show the inevitable consequence of starving the NHS of funding for the best part of a decade,” said Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS organisations. “We should be under no illusion about the scale of the task we face to restore public confidence in the health service.”
Asked why they were dissatisfied with the NHS, 53% said: “It takes too long to get a GP or hospital appointment.” A similar number (52%) cited “not enough NHS staff” - while 49% said that the government “doesn’t spend enough money on the NHS.”
However, the survey also brought some good news for the NHS. A record 70% of people said they were satisfied with hospital outpatient services. In addition, 63% said they were happy with in-patient care, the highest number since 1993.
Quality of NHS care is the main reason people cited for being satisfied with the NHS. In the survey, 71% of respondents identified that as their main reason. The other sources of satisfaction are that care is free at the point of use (62%) and that there is a good range of services and treatments available (46%).

What are our views at The Customer Service Blog?
All of these patient satisfaction statistics need to be taken with a huge pinch of salt. And all the negative comments about the new £20.5 billion per-year funding need to be treated with caution, as they are clearly being made by people with a political agenda.
It’s surely obvious that it will take several years before this new funding (which was only announced nine months ago) actually results in an increase in patient satisfaction. The so-called ‘experts’ who mention this factor are playing a political game by implying that the government has failed to improve satisfaction with the NHS.
It's almost as if some of these ‘experts’ are trying to play down the new funding for political reasons (i.e. they don’t like a Tory government) rather than welcoming the massive boost to NHS spending. After all, welcoming the new money would, by implication, be like giving ‘praise’ to a government that they hate.
This view is backed by Professor John Appleby, the chief economist of the Nuffield Trust, who recently stated that public satisfaction would improve over the next few years as the new funding starts to filter through.
And NHS England also stressed the positive findings. According to an NHS spokesperson: “For the third year in a row, public satisfaction with the quality of NHS care has improved and satisfaction with in-patient services is now at its highest level since 1993. The results as a whole understandably reflect a health service still under pressure.”
Although the new money is very welcome, and will make a real difference in the long term, the real problem with the NHS is being ignored by politicians on both sides of the political spectrum. The NHS is a very badly managed organisation. It is wasteful, very inefficient, and in many cases run by people who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a hospital. It’s a simple equation: bad management = bad service.
The people in charge of the NHS are often more interested in protecting their own cushy well-paid jobs than in improving efficiency and using innovative methods to improve the standards of patient care. 
That is the real problem with the NHS. Yes, lack of funding continues to be a problem. And yes, the new money promised by the Government will help. But ultimately, bad management is the real problem facing the NHS, and no amount of extra money is going to solve that.

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