The National Health Service (NHS)
is Europe's biggest organisation. It has a workforce of around one
million people who provide care and treatment for many millions
more every year. The NHS spends in excess of £42 bn, this is the
second largest item of central government expenditure after social
security. In the March 2000 Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer
announced a further £2Bn spend on the NHS and a further 10,000 nurses.
However we have seen that the number of nurses is actually 2/3rds
of the 15,000 nurses promises two years ago in 1998 which have yet
Back in 1997, The Government published a White Paper on the new NHS.
This describes how the Government will build a modern and dependable
health service fit for the 21st century - a National Health Service
which offers people high quality treatment and care when and where
they need it. This includes statements on speedier treatment for patients,
the launch of NHS Direct, Primary Care Groups and NHSnet.
Well as taxpayers and patients how do you feel about the service
of the NHS today. Im sure weve all heard horror stories
of mistakes, but are these just isolated incidents? What does the
global picture look like?
Most people are uncertain of the goings on in hospitals and they
can be bewildering for the uninformed. We like to believe that the
staff are all well trained professionals and have our best interests
at heart. But they are human and open to failure, the NHS is under
resourced and staff are usually overworked. So how easy is it to make
a complaint to the NHS? Here is an extract from their web site.
How do I make a complaint about the health service?
To make a complaint you should first formally complain to your local
provider of the service. They will try to resolve the complaint to
your satisfaction as quickly as possible.
If this is unsatisfactory, you should then seek a review of your
complaint by a convener (this is normally a non-executive director
of the Trust or Health Authority concerned) who will be advised by
an independent lay person. If the convener decides that more should
be done to satisfy you, he or she may either establish an independent
panel to consider your complaint or ask the service provider to take
If you are still dissatisfied you may ask the Health Service Commissioner
(Ombudsman) to investigate your case. The Ombudsman is completely
independent of the NHS and of Government and can consider complaints
about most aspects of NHS services and treatment. However, he is not
obliged to investigate every complaint put to him.
NHS Direct is a new confidential NHS service offering advice and
information about health problems and services.
Primary Care Groups (PCGs) are new groups, introduced in April 1999,
to put doctors, nurses and health professionals in the community,
shaping local services to increase the quality of care and tackle
health inequalities more effectively.
NHSnet - The NHS's own information superhighway with the potential
to deliver the enormous benefits of information technology to all
parts of the NHS.