Before the 1970s, hospitals had been simply run. Each ward had a ward sister (who was in charge of the nursing) and a ward clerk (who was in charge of looking after the medical records). Each hospital had a matron (who was in charge of all nursing matters), a secretary (who was in charge of administration) and an almoner (who looked after patients’ social problems). Porters were hired to wheel patients around and to look after the heavy work. Nursing auxiliaries dealt with simpler, routine nursing work.
All this worked well, to the quiet satisfaction of patients and staff, but it was changed dramatically by the introduction of many layers of administration.
The new administrators demanded more control and closed smaller hospitals because they did not fit comfortably into a new bureaucratic hierarchy which had been designed more for the satisfaction of the administrators than the welfare of patients or the comfort of the staff. Nurses and doctors abandoned working practices which had been carefully devised and perfected over generations and replaced them with selfish demands for greed and power.
In both general practice and hospitals, the bureaucrats had taken control. Aided and abetted by increasingly powerful professional trade unions which abandoned any sense of responsibility for patient care in favour of merely improving their members’ earnings, the conspirators had successfully destroyed the National Health Service, removing all sense of morality from a system which had also become increasingly beholden to the powerful and corrupt international pharmaceutical industry.
What none of the unions realised, however, was that they had helped set up a system which was perfectly designed to ensure that individual professionals will, in just a few years, be completely replaced by robots and computers.
It has been proven time and time again that computers make better diagnosticians than doctors, that robots are better at surgery than human surgeons and that robots make better, more caring and more reliable nurses than human nurses. The robot nurses can be programmed with enough caring to revive the valuable placebo response that used to augment medical treatment in such a powerful way.
The health care trade unions haven’t realised it yet but there is no future for human doctors or for human nurses. They will all be replaced by robots and computers. The new system, which eradicated home visits and destroyed the traditional relationship between doctors and patients, has made this possible.
The NHS could be rescued, if there was sufficient political will and if the medical and nursing professions could be persuaded or coerced into putting the interests of patients a little higher on their list of priorities.
But at the moment it is very easy to argue that the NHS today provides a far inferior service to the NHS of 1970. And it is not difficult to argue that the NHS today provides a far inferior service to the NHS of 1950.
Taken from Vernon Coleman’s book The NHS: What’s wrong and how to put it right which is available from the shops this website. To purchase a copy please click here.