"The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it"
Aneurin Bevan

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Nasty Targets

Labour's stewardship of the NHS was characterised by targets. For example,

  • 98% of referral to treatment time kept down to 18 weeks
  • 98% of treatment carried out within 4 hours of admission to A&E

etc etc, you've heard them before. Andrew Lansley calls them "process-driven targets" as if they are something worse than he's ever trodden in.

However, Labour's targets have been beneficial to patients. Targets have ensured that waiting lists for hospital treatment were the shortest ever. Targets ensured that waiting lists for cancer treatment were the shortest ever. Targets ensured that the waiting time for a cancer diagnosis were the shortest ever. Heck, targets ensured that you could phone your GP and get an appointment within a day! Targets were good for patients!

Andrew Lansley said at the 2010 election that he would get rid of targets. David Cameron, in nodding dog fashion agreed with Lansley. At the Tory party conference Cameron got a cheer from his clueless audience when he said:
The old targets and performance indicators that drove doctors, nurses and police officers mad – they're gone.
Sigh. The very mechanisms that guaranteed that patients got a world class service have gone. They've gone because they drove doctors [and] nurses mad, the patients clearly do not matter to him nor Lansley.

However, now it appears that Lansley has decided that he is keen on targets, just different ones. These are the targets that Pulse reports.

  • drive down unscheduled admissions by 20%, 
  • drive down A&E attendances by 10% 
  • to work with hospitals to bring down length of stay by a whopping 25%

So while Labour's targets benefited the patient, Lansley's targets are designed to save him money (ie they are the manifestation of cuts to the NHS).

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