Government told to ‘stop treating NHS like a bank’ as waiting lists reach all-time high… and why do Welsh doctors prescribe more?
A round up of the health news headlines on Friday 16 August.
All the main health headlines this morning focus on the latest NHS crisis story – waiting list stats for June. The Guardian reports that the number of people waiting for hospital treatment is now at its highest level for five years, with almost 2.9 million currently on the list, nearly a quarter of a million more than the same time last year.
Labour health spokesman Andrew Gwynne linked the rise in waiting times to the current pressure on A&E services. He said: ‘Thousands of extra patients are facing the agony of a long-awaited operation being cancelled as overflowing A&E departments need more and more hospital beds. Whole hospitals are being consumed by the crisis in A&E.’
The Government is also coming under fire for treating the NHS like a ‘failing bank or business’, the BBC reports. An editorial in The Lancet launches a scathing attack on the Coalition’s NHS record and accuse them of setting it on a ‘path to a market commodity’.
Referring to language such as ‘bailouts’ for A&E wards and ‘Bargain Hunt’ cost-cutting initiatives, it says: ‘One might be forgiven for thinking that the current Coalition Government views the NHS as a failing bank or business.’
‘This stance is one of the most cynical, and at the same time cunning, ways by which the Government abdicates all responsibilities for running a healthcare system that has patient care and safety at its heart.’
Meanwhile the Welsh Government is having to defend its policy of free prescriptions, the Telegraph reports, as official figures show doctors in Wales wrote more than a third more prescriptions than their English colleagues last year. The number of prescription drugs handed out reached 24.3 per person in 2012-2013 for Wales, compared with 18.7 per person in England, 18.6 in Scotland and 20.8 in Northern Ireland. But a Welsh Government spokeswoman said: ‘There is no link between the number of prescriptions per head and prescription charges. Wales has dispensed more prescription per head than England since as far back as 1973.
‘The number of prescription items dispensed increased by 20% in Wales between 2007 and 2012, and by 26% in England over the same period.’