Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Yet Another NHS "Study"

The Mail informs us that
"Study finds link between the thousands that die and wards with too few doctors"

I wouldn't have thought that it needed much "Study" to produce this amazing piece of information! It would appear that 14 NHS Trusts which which have been identified as having higher death rates have about 17% less doctors than average. They also have five per cent fewer nurses and 22 per cent fewer cleaners. These hospitals have on average only 50 doctors per hundred beds. By contrast, the best staffed hospital,  Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London, has 125 doctors per hundred beds, two and a half times more than the worst hospital and, as a result, has a death rate 22% below average.

To me, it is common sense; the more medical care that a patient has, the better are his chances of survival, why the NHS had to commission a study to prove this escapes me. Hopefully, the research will come up with recommended staffing levels for hospitals, making allowance, of course, for any specialist departments which might need above average staffing.

More to the point would be a study, by independent auditors and business experts, aided by the police if necessary, to find just where the money has gone, as my understanding is that funds are allocated to hospitals broadly on a per capita basis dependent upon the numbers of patients being treated. We need to know  among other things how the money has been spent, whether there has been any fraud, whether there are excessive administrative staffing levels and whether the salaries being paid to such staff are appropriate when compared with other Trusts and the private sector. In simple terms, is the management incompetent?

I must admit to a vested interest; the Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, in whose area I live, is one of the 14 Trusts included in the study. Statistically, there should have been some 1553 deaths per year when in fact there were 1788, some 15% above average, and considerably more than achieved in the best hospitals. Personally, I don't believe that these figures will be helped by the recent closure of our nearest A&E at High Wycombe forcing emergency patients to travel longer distances to the already very busy Stoke Mandeville Hospital for treatment.


  1. 125 doctors per 100 beds? That sounds very high.

  2. That was the figure quoted in the Media.
    Having worked shifts of 35 hours per week, we needed five people to cover each post for 24/7 cover - 168 hours in a week, 35x5=175 hours staffing.
    That is without allowance for leave, training, etc.
    So that is a maximum of 25 doctors at any time.