- Spent £160m on pills patients do not need and £300m on unnecessary admin
- Paid out £1.23bn in compensation and legal fees for 15,000 cases of negligence
- Comes after NHS boss announced series of cost-cutting measures
The profesionally produced video, posted on YouTube, looks and sounds like the sort of human resources promo that Ricky Gervais’s David Brent would make.
‘Morning all, you’ve died and gone to heaven, it turns out I’m president number 67.’ So begins the excruciatingly embarrassing rap song, featuring a middle-aged accountant driving a BMW and wearing a pair of trendy glasses.
In fact, the truth is even more tragic. The wannabe rapper is Mark Orchard, director of finance at Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, who had the video shot to celebrate his appointment as this year’s president of the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) — president number 67, as it happens.
With a membership of more than 12,000 NHS finance managers, the HFMA’s turnover (last year £8.5 million) is generated chiefly by charging hospital trusts to send their staff on its conferences and courses and to play The Operating Game — a ‘fun’ day-long board game designed to ‘simulate the running of a hospital’. The HFMA is ultimately funded by the taxpayer.
The organisation coyly declines to say how much was spent on the video — there was ‘no specific cost’, as it was shot during three days of recording the organisation’s conference in December.
But while wannabe rap star Mr Orchard might be wasted in accountancy, whatever was spent on one man’s vanity project is a drop in the ocean of resources wasted every year by poor management of the NHS.
BIG SPENDER: City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, paid £66.72 for 100 rolls (66p a roll)
THRIFTY: Pennine Care Foundation Trust, £34.14 (34p a roll)
By now, surely no one can doubt that the health service is in deep trouble. With staff overwhelmed, at one point in January no fewer than 23 hospitals declared a ‘black alert’, meaning they were unable to guarantee life-saving emergency care. That month an elderly woman suffered a fatal cardiac arrest after waiting 35 hours on a trolley in A&E at Worcester Royal Hospital.
Further evidence that the health service is in crisis came last Friday with the announcement by Simon Stevens, the chief executive of the NHS, that he was abandoning the commitment that patients would wait no more than 18 weeks for operations.
Many trusts are struggling financially; in 2015-16, two-thirds were in deficit to a total of £2.45 billion, up 185 per cent from £859 million the year before. All of this comes as the NHS is expected to deliver savings of £22 billion by 2020.
The depth of the crisis was acknowledged last week when Mr Stevens announced plans for a series of common-sense cost-cutting measures. If they go ahead, there would be no more gluten-free foods, suncreams, indigestion pills or hay fever remedies doled out on prescription, and a crackdown on foreign health tourists.
Simon Stevens announced he was abandoning the commitment that patients would wait no more than 18 weeks for operations
Mr Stevens estimates the reforms could save the NHS up to £1 billion in two years.
But this barely scratches the surface of the waste. An investigation by Good Health has identified more than £7.6 billion that could be being wasted in the NHS every year — itself almost certainly only the tip of an iceberg.