In the Expert Report to the Infected Blood Inquiry, they have estimated that as many as 3320 people were killed as a direct result of blood transfusions. Around 38,800 could have also been infected with HIV, Hepatitis C, or both.
This is a clear demonstration of why a centralised policy or government agency, such as the NHS, is not the best idea when lives depend upon good decisions. The unintended consequences mean that if a mistake is made, or something overlooked, the entire population will suffer. A decentralised system not only limits who is affected by some disruption, but also ensures that alternative options are quickly available that do not have the same consequences.
Perhaps the British pharmaceutical industry could offer a small glimmer of hope when looking for ways to prevent unintended consequences of all the NHS failures.
For those who are not aware of how the UK's pharmacies operate, they are almost all private businesses. Even though they operate under eye wateringly stringent regulations, the NHS issues contracts to dispense medications through NHS issued prescriptions. Prescriptions can be taken to any competing pharmacy who want to be able to serve their customers better that their competitors so that they get more business, and in turn, more profits.
( Photo from Consultancy.UK)
Pharmacies have to compete on service because the NHS controls the prices. Hardly ideal, but far more libertarian than the NHS system itself overall. It results in faster service, and extras thrown in, such as collections of repeat prescriptions from your GP surgery and even home delivery too!
So what can the NHS learn from the Pharmacies? For a start, if they were to extend that model to other services, such as Screenings, Surgical Operations, Physiotherapy, then we'd probably see more facilities quickly open up in every town and city across the UK. Just imagine, for a minute, if GP Surgeries were paid per appointment instead of paid per person registered? Straight away you'd be able to access a GP within hours instead of waiting for days, even weeks to get one. Can you imagine calling up your local GP surgery for the telephone to be answered in a friendly and welcoming manner? Getting an appointment just for asking for one? No third degree questions by an unqualified call handler looking to get any excuse to refuse an appointment? We can but dream... Until then? We wait for the next scandal. Then the next and the next...
Guest Contribution by:
Stephen McNamara - Political Consultant