Viewpoint: Welsh NHS Confederation on spending review
Published: 5th Oct 2010 10:34:09
For many people, the hospital building and its rows of beds is the image that sums up everything the NHS does; it is what the NHS is all about.
Many will have seen the coverage of the expected public spending cuts, and will be concerned about what that means for their local NHS services, and their local hospital.
Certainly, there are some tough times ahead. When we look at figures such as £1.3bn - £1.9bn coming out of the Welsh health budget in the next four years, these are ominously large sums of money.
We cannot achieve this level of savings by making small changes here and there.
Hospitals are the most expensive part of our health system, costing thousands of pounds a week to run. It therefore makes sense to look carefully at the role of all of our hospitals, and whether we are using them in the right way.
The main objective for the NHS as it learns to live with less is to keep people out of hospital as much as possible and reduce demand for expensive hospital services.
There are several projects going on across Wales that are doing just that. Teams of specially trained health and social care staff are changing the way they traditionally work.
For example, they visit elderly patients who have had a fall at home, preventing the need to call an ambulance or visit A&E. It means the person maintains independence, and avoids the need for a hospital stay.
For the most successful health organisations across the world, the hospital is seen as the last resort. Patients only go into hospital if they have very complex needs that cannot be cared for anywhere else.
This has been our objective for some time - not only can this save money, but it is much better for patients. It is often safer, more user-friendly, more local, and it prevents travel to hospital.
Moving traditional services out of hospital is the biggest change that people can expect to see, and it will certainly mean changing the way we see the role of the hospital.
All too often in Wales we think of the hospital, or the place we deliver care from, as the service. In reality, the NHS is far more than the place where the service is delivered, and we need to change our view so that we concentrate on the service, rather than the bricks and mortar.
At the moment, a lot of what we do in hospital doesn't need to be done there. There are procedures which could safely be done by trained staff in your own home or the GP surgery; such as chemotherapy and treatment of chronic diseases like diabetes and respiratory conditions.
Rehabilitation and follow-up care can also take place closer to home. Advances in technology mean that X-Rays and scans can be e-mailed, while patients can talk to their doctor or nurse via video links, often saving hours of travel.
If you do need to go to hospital, developments such as keyhole surgery mean it is increasingly likely you'll be in for a day, not for a stay.
Patients can return home sooner and recover in the comfort of their own homes, which is reducing pressure on hospital beds, and allowing us to reduce bed numbers where they are no longer needed.
A special BBC News season examining the approaching cuts to public sector spending
At the same time, it is becoming increasingly clear that for very specialist services, outcomes are better if care is delivered from a smaller number of larger hospitals with a concentration of specialist staff and expertise.
All of this inevitably raises questions about the role and function of some our smaller hospitals. This is a very important message that the NHS is asking the public to understand: the hospital building may close - but the service will continue in a different way or in a different place.
Today's public rightly expect the NHS to continue providing a top quality service. The NHS is still aiming to improve care and services in the next four years, even as we see budgets get smaller.
However, we're asking the public to have an open mind when it comes to how those services will be delivered. There are ways we can do things better, but in a different way.
Nothing stays still in the world of health and science, and the NHS needs to move and modernise with it.
If we are really bold, and really innovative, and work extremely hard over the next four years with our public sector partners and the public, we could create a much better service in four years' time.
It will be a very painful process to go through to get there, but what we will have at the end will be a leaner, more efficient, more effective NHS - delivered much closer to home.
At 00:59:22 in PoliticsA "badly managed" Home Office scheme resulted in asylum seekers being placed in "unacceptably poor" housing, the Public Accounts Committee has said.
At 00:48:17 in HeadlinesSouth Sudan's President Salva Kiir has sacked the head of the army.
At 00:39:06 in EnglandThe decline of some regional English dialects has been mourned for years but now sign language is being hit by the same trend. Researchers say regional variations that produced 22 different ways of signing the word "purple" are dying out.
At 00:29:16 in HeadlinesFormula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is set to appear at the start of a trial on bribery charges in Munich.
At 00:16:58 in BusinessEnergy grids across the world are struggling to cope with a surge in demand for electricity and increasingly volatile supply from renewable power sources.
At 00:11:50 in SportEighteen-time US Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps says concerns about weight gain were behind his decision to return to the sport.
At 00:09:32 in BusinessBeckford's Tower stands proudly on the hills overlooking the spa city of Bath, a monument to eccentricity and wealth.
At 00:01:40 in TechnologyDrones are becoming more common in our skies, performing a variety of tasks, from taking photos to monitoring crops and potentially even delivering broadband.
At 00:01:37 in HeadlinesBritish counter-terrorism police chiefs are making an unprecedented appeal to Muslim women to urge men against travelling to possibly fight in Syria.
At 23:52:22 in SportA turbulent three days for Manchester United has ended with them fending off allegations of unprofessionalism labelled against them by the League Managers Association (LMA).
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2010. Viewpoint: Welsh NHS Confederation on spending review [Online] (Updated 5th Oct 2010)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/96036/Viewpoint-Welsh-NHS-Confederation-on-spending-review [Accessed 24th Apr 2014]
News In Other Categories
Eighteen-time US Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps says concerns about weight gain were behind his decision to return to the sport.
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir has sacked the head of the army.
Drones are becoming more common in our skies, performing a variety of tasks, from taking photos to monitoring crops and potentially even delivering broadband.
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
Energy grids across the world are struggling to cope with a surge in demand for electricity and increasingly volatile supply from renewable power sources.
The cost of drugs is in the headlines following the decision by NHS watchdog NICE that a new cancer treatment should not be funded.