Chairman’s Corner May 2015

Last month we had a very enjoyable lunchtime excursion to the Koninglijke Industrieele Groote Club. For the May lunch we are back in the Apollo on May 8th. The reason for the early date is that the following weekend is the Ascension Day holiday, followed by school half term. It also gives us the opportunity to immediately discuss the impact of the new government in the UK.

Our speaker will be Patrick Burrows, CFO of London City Airport. Patrick has been responsible for the design and implementation of new passenger tracking technology which has significantly reduced queueing throughout the airport – and the result is that City has become the favourite business airport in the UK, and the busiest. His story is compelling, and relevant to many businesses.

The election in the UK is in full cry, and regular readers of the Review will have noted the emphasis on election issues over the past few editions.

My daughter’s forthcoming graduation as a medical doctor and her recent engagement to a young Australian working as a consultant to the public sector, together with the tremendous focus on the National Health Service (NHS) in this election, has led to a number of calls between Voorschoten and London J – not to mention discussion about where and when the happy event will occur (current trend is Northamptonshire late next summer). Celebration is the order of the day!

So all corruption, press bias, rotten boroughs, Europe and immigration issues aside, here are a few elements of the NHS debate.

  • the NHS is the biggest employer in Europe. All 1.6 million employees are UK voters!
  • the NHS is the most efficient health system in the world, costing 8% of GDP (115bn GBP) to provide a high level of medical services to every one of the 54m UK residents
  • the Tories have employed more doctors and nurses and cut the number of bureaucrats working in the NHS over the past 5 years. A major part of this has been achieved by eliminating the whole hospital commissioning service, run by civil servants, and replacing it with commissioning bodies run by local doctors (huisarts). The consequence has been a reduction of ~15% in local doctor capacity, an inability to get local surgery appointments, and a consequent overrunning of hospital accident and emergency services by citizens with minor illness. Meanwhile the sacked civil servants are back in their posts, working for their new bosses, the boards of local doctors who supervise them on a part-time basis.
  • Over 50% of the cost of treatment received during a person’s entire life is in the last 6 months of it. Over the period 2008-2025 there is a doubling of the number of people reaching the end of their lives in the UK, after which the number will decline.
  • All political parties have guaranteed small annual increases in funding for the NHS, despite the major cuts going on elsewhere. However cuts in benefit funding for e.g. care of old people, are leading to expensive beds in hospitals being occupied by old people with chronic nursing needs which can no longer be met by the reduced social services in the community.
  • The bottom line is that the available financial resources per head of the population requiring treatment will continue to decline substantially over the coming 10 years.
  • Young doctors graduating this year are expected to work in a hospital for 3 years, for up to 85hrs per week, for total salaries of less than 30k GBP per annum in London.
  • My daughter (top of her year) is doing her final elective in Canberra… 😐