Thursday, November 23, 2006

Weird: NHS hospitals to advertise themselves

Spending the money on hiring more doctors and reducing their waiting lists has not occurred to anybody, apparently

NHS hospitals are to be allowed to attract patients by advertising, under a Department of Health code. A draft version says that the NHS needs to give “reliable information” to assist patient choice, and should not spend too much on advertisements. There is unlikely to be a cap on trusts’ spending but costly television advertising is likely to be ruled out.

In consultation with GPs, patients now have a choice, albeit limited, of which hospital to have treatment at. Under the new payment-by-results system, hospitals are being given funds per patient treated. The successes of hospitals could be presented to patients through advertising; some independent hospital chains already advertise their services to GPs.

Gill Morgan, of the NHS Confederation, said: “We are trying to change the NHS from being a service where you get what you’re given, really, to a service where patients are much more able to choose what they want.”

Jonathan Fielden, of the British Medical Association, said: “NHS hospitals will have no option but to invest in marketing tactics if they are to survive against private firms. It is a sad indictment of government policy to consider spending public money on advertising NHS services when hospitals are having to make cutbacks in patient care, and redundancies.” The department said that a code on advertising would be put out to consultation soon.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

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