The NHS Jobsworths Employed to Brand Kids as Fat


is it time to ring some changes?
NHS Change 4 Life Poster - by Leo Reynolds via Flickr

Yeah. Let’s Stop Them Gobbling Our Taxes

The NHS Jobsworths have produced yet another set of scare scatistics, this time on “child obesity”.

NHS figures for the past year show 19% of children in their final year of primary school were classed as obese, compared with 18.7% the previous year.

But obesity fell to 9.4% in children going into reception, down from 9.8% the previous year.

Apart from producing a great source of copy for the media, what is the use of these statistics?

They are produced by The National Child Measurement Programme (copyright: Tony Blair 1995). This measures all schoolkids when they start primary school and again as they get to the end of primary school.

The purpose, according to their website, is:

The information collected helps your local NHS provider to plan and provide better health services for the children in your area.

In other words, they serve no purpose – unless “health services” includes putting pressure on parents to turn their kids into anorexics.

We all know that cakes and chips are bad for our kids, don’t we? And we all know that feeding our kids healthy food is a good idea. The statistics prove that … wait for it … people feed their kids cake and chips anyway.

Obviously no figures are published for the cost of all this, as NHS finances are completely opaque to the public. But the cost of this measurement programme must be quite high. The survey is after all measuring a million pupils every year. The survey – even without the pseudo “actions” that are taken as a result of it – must run into many millions of pounds of our taxes.

One can only hope that not too many children (and their parents) are made miserable by being branded “obese” when a fifth of kids are heavier than they are.

But mostly, really, the jobsworths who waste their lives running this programme just need to be told to p*** off. We don’t need their useless information, and we don’t want our taxes wasted on their salaries.

They are a great example of why the NHS is crumbling.

In case you are indeed one of those jobsworths yourself reading this, and ask whether I am embittered by myself being a victim of this 1984-style programme, the answer is that no, I have not fallen foul of it myself.

The NHS – Putting the Doctors in Charge

The Government is Taking Power from Bureaucrats and Giving it to Doctors

The Coalition government has announced that power over most NHS budgets is to be devolved down to GPs.

At the moment, the money goes to Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) – the NHS bodies that decide where money will be spent. In future, GPs will decide.

GP surgeries may band together into consortia to buy services. There is speculation that the managers they buy in may end up being the same ones currently working for the Primary Care Trusts.

The BBC hints that the reforms may therefore make no difference. In fact, they will make all the difference in the world.

Right now, GPs work for the PCT managers and bureaucrats.

In the new system, the position will be reversed. Those managers will be working for the GPs.

This is, pretty much, the return of the old “NHS Internal Market” that the Tories introduced when they were last in government. Labour abolished it immediately when they won the election in 1997, and replaced it with the PCTs. Labour kept the “purchaser-provider split” and had monopoly PCTs in each area buy services from monopoly service providers. The worst of all worlds.

This time, the Tories are selling the reforms better. They are talking about giving GPs the power in the NHS, instead of talking about markets and competition. That’s what they should have done last time, because talk of “competition” and “markets” in relation to the NHS scares people.

What’s more, the BMA is involved in detailed discussions with the government about implementing the reforms, and if the government keeps them onside, they will be a powerful voice supporting the changes.

For these reasons, there is every chance the reforms will stick this time.

The BBC and other left-leaning commentators perhaps haven’t thought through the full implications. If GPs commission services, and they can commission them from wherever they like, then there will be competition within the NHS between service providers – an internal market. That is the best – actually the only way to raise standards.

The old way, the Labour way, was to raise standards by imposing targets from the centre, and by a massive, humungous increase in money spent. It failed dismally. (Remember the “waiting lists to get on the waiting list”? Remember the MRSA and the dirty hospital scandals?) The service improved a little, but most of the new money was wasted.

The coalition have promised to keep that new money in the system, and not to cut the NHS budget; the task now therefore is to get that money spent better.

The bureaucrats are worried – which is yet more evidence the government is going in the right direction. The acting Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation said on Radio 4 this morning that there are “some quite significant risks” in transitioning to the new system.

The NHS Confederation “represents” NHS service providers. As its website says:

Our members include ambulance trusts, acute and foundation trusts, mental health trusts, primary care trusts and independent healthcare organisations that deliver services on behalf of the NHS.

In other words, the NHS Confederation represents the bureaucrats. They fund it out of the NHS budget. And its annual report for 2008/9 reveals that it spent £29 million.

The existence of the Confederation is itself the best possible illustration of why the government’s reforms are absolutely right.