Have you ever received a Christmas present which you know was really just something the giver wanted to give, rather than necessarily something you wanted to receive, an item that made them feel better not you?
If you have, you will empathise with those of us who experience the same pattern of behaviour that seems to pervade all new funding meetings in the NHS.
Meetings about new income streams seem to want you to ‘come up with something new for your locality’. You sit around a table with fellow health professionals and between you, you agree that what you would really like is a few more district nurses and maybe some money for a locum for a day or two, to give us some respite from the daily grind of reactive medicine and allow us to do something proactive.
You suggest this and are told categorically no, this money has to be for something new. You don’t necessarily want or need some shiny new piece of equipment. Perhaps someone to come around and service your old equipment, yes. But you’re not going to get that either.
New money is not about improving health care, but trying to make the current administration look ‘pro-NHS’
Why can we not just put extra funding into improving what we already have rather than always having some new initiative, which in any case, as we all know, will fade away when the money dries up?
The answer is of course political. New money is not about improving health care, but trying to make the current administration look good and ‘pro-NHS’. The way new money is spent, is usually about as logical as a homeowner buying a state-of-the-art burglar alarm for their house, while their roof is falling in.
So Matt Hancock and the rest of the bright sparks at the Department of Health, if all you want to give us for Christmas is supermarket chocolates and cheap wine forget it, we’d really rather just have the cash.
Dr David Turner is a GP in North West London