The Healthcare Commission - the government's NHS watchdog in England - yesterday published its annual report into the performance of NHS Trusts.
Despite its predictably positive overtones - "Patients and the public should celebrate these results as they show a real shift in performance"- the report does find some identify some persistent failings. For instance a quarter of NHS Trusts failed to meet the core infection targets, with only 52% of acute trusts meeting targets to reduce the incidents of MRSA. Perhaps most notably, there has been a dramatic decline in the number of Primary Care Trusts meeting the target that every patient should be able to see a GP within two working days, down from 80% last year to just 31% today.
It was the Government's reaction to the report that said most about the NHS though. While roundly welcoming the 'independent' (read: established, funded and directed by government) Commission's findings, it rejected the new methodology used to calculate the 'GP within 2 days' target. Why? Because they had carried out their own survey of patients (at great cost) and had found that almost everyone saw a GP within the prescribed limit.
The Healthcare Commission cost the taxpayer over £75 million last year. The fact that the Government then dismisses its work and commissions more sympathetic research speaks volumes about the Government controlled NHS. In short, it is a politically run health system, managed toward political ends. The only people to lose in such a situation are patients and taxpayers. Taxpayers foot the bill for a massive and needless NHS bureaucracy (why have the Healthcare commission if you are going to disregard its findings) and patients because politically uncomfortable problems are ignored or redefined.