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Friday, 11 December 2009

Grouchy doctors can save the NHS

The PBR says that the NHS is ring fenced from cuts, but imposes NI costs on the service. But leaving aside the fact that we are run by mendacious headless chickens, what can be done to make savings?

One idea comes from the training of doctors, who these days are trained in their bedside manner, dealing with patients very differently from their older colleagues.

But that care comes at a cost, because the more high-handed older consultants cover more patients in less time than new trainees. Kindness costs nothing? Dream on.


The King of Wrong said...

the more high-handed older consultants cover more patients in less time than new trainees

I always did like James Robertson Justice in the Doctor films...

Sir Watkin said...

But do they treat them as effectively?

A kinder, slower approach might be better at eliciting information from patents, improve their sense of well-being, etc. and thus produce better clinical outcomes (perhaps faster and cheaper ones too).

An example from personal experience is suggestive (it concerns G.P.s, not consultants, but the principle is the same).

A brisk, businesslike and (superficially) efficient doctor utterly failed to diagnose my illness. The cost to the N.H.S was considerable (multiple visits to the doctor, failed treatments), to say nothing of the impact on my work (costing my employer and ultimately U.K. p.l.c.).

Then I happened to see a locum. She was a much better listener, more reflective (and, yes, slower), but as a result, in one interview she had correctly diagnosed the illness and prescribed the right treatment. The problem cleared up in a matter of days.

Which doctor was more efficient?