This little story perfectly encapsulates the idiocy of the National Health Service. As with it still being the world’s largest buyer of fax machines, the NHS still uses pagers. Rather more than any other extant organisation in fact. We might think this is a not very good idea and we might be right when we think so.
So, perhaps a move away from pagers and off to things like WhatsApp would be a good idea? Quite possibly so, yes. But it’s the how this is being done which shows what’s wrong with the basic set up of the NHS itself:
NHS told to ditch ‘outdated’ pagers
Pagers are the latest piece of iconic 90s tech set for the chop as part of health secretary Matt Hancock’s fervent campaign to modernise the NHS, it has emerged. The unabashed tech enthusiast – who launched his own app while digital secretary – announced on Saturday that pagers would be banned in the NHS, calling for the “outdated and expensive” technology to be eradicated by the end of 2021. While bleepers may have fallen out of fashion at the time of the millennium amid the rise of the mobile phone, the NHS has remained a staunch supporter of the vintage tech. Today, more than one in 10 of the world’s pagers are used by the health service. According to government figures, the 130,000 bleepers still operating within the NHS cost £6.6m a year, with only one UK mobile phone company still providing the service.
Now think this through the right way, the hard way.
Who knows what messaging system should be used inside the NHS? Well, that’s not you nor me, is it? Knowledge is local as the man said in his Nobel acceptance speech. So, some combination of doctors and nurses and the people who manage them – with that local knowledge of what is being done and how – would seem to be the appropriate group. And if we’re honest about it something that works, works and costs £6.6 million a year inside a £150 billion a year behemoth, well, perhaps it’s not something that actually needs changing?
And yet here we’ve a politician determining, in detail, the technology to be used by the country’s largest employer by far? That being what the NHS problem is. If we’ve a politically run NHS then the NHS will be run by politics. Some gobs**te decides to make a little name for himself and thereby imposes a pet technology.
Hey, maybe he’s even right here but want to think a little about batting averages over time?
Hancock studied PPE at Exeter College, Oxford and Economics at Christ’s College, Cambridge. He worked as an economist for the Bank of England before becoming an economic advisor (and later Chief of Staff) to George Osborne.
The NHS has a Bank of England economist determining the technology Doctors use to tell each other that a crash cart is needed in the next ward over. That’s going to work well, isn’t it?
Which is the problem with the NHS, it’s politically run by politicians.
For the hard of understanding here. What we want is a system which internally evaluates technologies in use, technologies that can be used, and then adopts them or not as circumstances dictate. Not a system that relies upon the Godhead of electoral power to determine such things. Think on it – what happens when a proper conservative takes power and insists upon bringing back tally sticks as the method of accounting?