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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Lessons from my dad

I was at a conference the other month where Andrew Lansley, shadow health secretary mentioned his father, a pathologist who had worked for NHS from the day of its inception. And it got me thinking about my dad, who also worked in the NHS, to see if he had any lessons I could tap into.

I was at a conference the other month where Andrew Lansley, shadow health secretary mentioned his father, a pathologist who had worked for NHS from the day of its inception. And it got me thinking about my dad, who also worked in the NHS, to see if he had any lessons I could tap into.

The late Henry McNulty (pictured below), worked for the NHS for over 30 years as a hospital porter.

The job of porter is one of the worst you can do in a hospital.



They gather the laundry and make trips to the morgue and incinerator for example.

And in the 1970s there was no such thing as security guards to call when it kicked off on a Saturday night – A&E would call on the porters to wade in until the police chose to arrive.

What really got my dad's goat though wasn't the horrible jobs he had to do but the money he saw being wasted in the NHS.

The curtains that were put into the hospital wing that had already been earmarked for demolition for example - and came down with the building six months later.

Having some understanding myself now about how NHS finances work I can summise there was actually some logic behind such wasteful decisions.

Those managers probably bought those curtains because the hospital expenditure had to stay above a certain level or they would see their budget reduced the following year.

But to my dad at the coalface those decisions made his blood boil.

Practical Commissioning did a straw poll last month on freed up resources. And more than half of those practice-based commissioners said they didn't expect to receive what they're entitled to for 2008/9.

I threw this finding out at my editorial board meeting last month and the feeling was that while this was unfair of PCTs to do, they didn't hear the death knell of PBC.

Think about it. Do GPs want to stand by and see managers make inappropriate spending decisions? Or will they choose to keep that bit of commissioning power they've found and see the NHS cash go further for their patients?

Clinical commissioning might prove addictive even if the cash has dried up for now.

editor Susan Mcnulty Henry Mac: seeing hospitals wasting money made his blood boil Henry McNulty

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