One of the major differences between public and private companies is their attitude towards money, the private sector will look for ways to keep costs down, will carefully audit its income and outgoings and will look generally at a best value for all its financial transactions both internally and externally. The more successful they are, the greater the profit/sales and potentially the greater the market share they’ll acquire.
The public sector because they don’t generally work on the efficiency of their operation (although they should) but rather by its size and its budget. That means unless there’s a recession when a government might look to reduce budgets, then they tend to grow despite bad practice, often very bad practice.
Wasteful health chiefs have been paying almost £50 for a £2 packet of pasta, it has emerged.
While many shoppers have been watching every penny they spend, it would appear some health service bosses have been acting far less frugally with taxpayer cash.
Not like it’s their money now is it? And hence the problem, no private company would have done this, or at least not been undercut by a competitor.
Now one NHS Trust has finally come to its senses and is getting patients to buy the packets in supermarkets for £2.
Everyone who previously had gluten-free pasta on prescription from the Eastern and Coastal Kent NHS Trust has now been advised to buy it themselves.
‘A £2 packet of pasta from a supermarket could cost the NHS up to £47,’ said Alison Issott, assistant director of medicines management at the Trust.
She added: ‘It will cost £5 from the manufacturer, plus a £1 dispensing fee, £1 pharmacy fee and a delivery charge up to £40.
Makes you wonder just how long this has been going on though and whether or not it was just the threat to their budget that brought the matter to a head? After all, what pressure will have been applied to simply have someone checking the costs, or even if they did, do something about it?
This isn’t an isolated case either…
In February it emerged the NHS is throwing half a billion pounds down the drain every single year by paying over the odds for hospital equipment.
A report by the National Audit Office found that even in the same hospital, different departments are needlessly buying lots of different types of the same product – at massively varying prices.
Across the NHS, trusts bought 21 different types of A4 paper, 652 types of medical gloves and an astounding 1,751 ‘cannulas’, instruments which are used for withdrawing or inserting fluid from a patient.
There were wide variations in prices paid – with a 180 per cent difference in price between the highest and lowest for one item.
The NAO predicts that, for just four common healthcare products, around £7million in costs could be saved every year if the number of orders was reduced to the level achieved by the best 25 per cent of trusts.
Meanwhile it was revealed that NHS desk workers are driving top-of-the-range rental cars that are funded by the taxpayer.
Strategic Health Authorities around the country have spent a staggering £1,000,000 every year since 2007 on the luxury cars. Shockingly, one ‘pen pusher’ was allowed to hire a £37,000 Porshe Boxster – costing taxpayers thousands of pounds.
This is always the problem with playing with other peoples money, there’s a lack of care in that there’s no best interest involved for the customer, it’s just money shaken from the money tree, it’s not a decision which might cost jobs or bankrupt the company, because there’s always more where that came from.
This is the lesson the public sector have consistently failed to learn under previous governments because there is no real penalty for failure when you can use the taxpayer to bail you out and certain political parties and unions play merry hob if anyone dares criticise the process claiming it will (always) affect frontline services.
The NHS is in dire need of reform, most people reading this realise this, however the inertia that has built up in the system means that its almost impossible to do without bringing down the government via the outrage that would be generated as you can bet that it will be the doctors, nurses and ancillary staff that will be targeted by the bureaucracy rather than the system itself.
So, the question I’m asking, is can the NHS be reformed, or will it have to be destroyed first?
Secondly, can it be done by an elected government?