back to article UK pins hopes on 'latest technology' to whittle down massive National Health Service waiting lists

The UK health secretary has invoked "the latest technology" to clear a 6-million-strong waiting list in England as the National Health Service struggles with a patient backlog caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and its quango NHS England have at the same time awarded millions of …

  1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    Oh FFS

    Stop spending peanuts on tech boondoggles and start hiring to replace the 93k NHS vacancies, plus the next 100k who are approaching burnout.

    £37Bn on T&T - cant even be arsed to fund the NHS properly - even with an 12Bn NI rise. There is a point at which it becomes ideologically led destruction of the NHS in favour of their Tory donating mates.

    1. tfewster

      Re: Oh FFS

      The (possibly apocryphal) story from a few decades ago was that Britain spent millions on managing waiting lists; The French didn't bother, they treated patients so there were no waiting lists.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: Oh FFS

        That does sound fishy, given that 30 second with google came up with this:-

        Jean-Paul Ortiz, the president of the Confederation French medical unions told France Info that it would be another eight or nine years before waiting times improved.

        Ortiz said one of the main reasons for the long waiting times was simply a shortage of doctors.

        “France cut the number of doctors in the 1990s because they said 'the less doctors, the less prescriptions, meaning more savings' as a way of cutting health costs,” he said.

        He also blamed the fact the heavy paperwork burden on doctors in France for reducing the time they are available to patients.

        1. MadDrFrank

          Re: Oh FFS

          In the 1990s the UK also shut down medical, dental, nursing, and physiotherapy schools, selling off or repurposing the buildings and dismissing teaching staff (I was one).

          Now we have a shortage -- well, what a surprise!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh FFS

        As someone who's lived 30 years in France I can say that is nonsense. Sure, you can get some treatment quickly (and you and your employer pay plenty in compulsory private insurance for it) but there are whole towns and villages where doctors have retired and there are no replacements. Try to get an appointment for a routine eye test? My local optician opened the appointment book for 2 weeks in July, and takes appointments for the year starting the following December. Miss that slot, and you can wait until the following July to try again.

      3. Nifty Silver badge

        Re: Oh FFS

        'The French didn't bother (managing queues), they treated patients so there were no waiting lists.'

        Believable because the French system is a public-private partnership where patients with means contribute per treatment. It's not like the UK PPP scam though, where buildings are expensively leased, it's a genuine private sector that gets some state help.

        Meanwhile in Blighty we have an un-reformable sacred cow.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh FFS

      in favour of their Tory donating mates.

      Oh, give over. All governments have increased NHS funding, none will ever be able to fill that bottomless pit. This isn't a party political issue, and making it one is juvenile.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh FFS

        Piss off!

        While it's true that healthcare is a bottomless pit for funding, it is a party political issue how that funding is provided and how the money gets spent. There's been no cross-party consensus on what to do about that since the 1970s.

        Vast amounts of public money have been wasted by useless/corrupt politicians of all parties for decades: the needless bureacracy of an internal market and commissioning care groups, rip-off PPF schemes, Dildo Harding's Test and Trace, ridiculous and impossible IT projects, juicy contracts for dodgy PPE to chancers in a pub who met an MP, ministers like Owen Patterson and Alan Milburn getting backhanders, etc.

        It's also perfectly reasonable to ask questions about the money that was wasted in the pandemic - overpriced PPE for instance. Quite a bit of that ended up in the pockets of Conservative party donors and cronies. That isn't a party political issue. It's an issue of legitimate public concern: probity, value for money, effectiveness, why the proper tendering and procurement policies weren't followed and so on.

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: Oh FFS

          Don't forget the PPP - Public Private Partnerships - which meant that [private finds built hospitals to be 'rented' by the NHS. Extremely expensive

      2. John 110

        Re: Oh FFS

        It's a party political issue, because as soon as a party needs a big stick to hit the current incumbent with, they grab the NHS's "failures" irrespective of whether or not those "failures" were their fault the last time round...

    3. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

      Re: Oh FFS

      It doesn't matter how much you spend on / give to the NHS it will never be enough. Bit like most (all?) government operations.

    4. adam 40 Silver badge

      Re: Oh FFS - Queuing theory to the rescue

      The application of queuing theory gives the outcome that the backlog will be solved by the death of the patients on the queue.

      So - do nothing extra, and wait for time to take its course.

  2. wolfetone Silver badge

    Providing better working conditions for nurses, giving them the pay rise they deserve, remove the reliance of 3rd party service providers by bringing that all back in to the NHS would go a long way to resolving the issues.

    That didn't cost me £500,000,000 to suggest, and it's all things that are painfully clear (amongst other items) that anyone who's used our NHS in the last 6 months alone would know or seen.

    But of course, none of the above suggestions puts money in to the brown envelopes of people with close personal ties to various people involved in the decision making process.

    1. midgepad

      Paying and using student nurses

      Project 2000 must have had something good about it, but turning nurse training into a way of producing nurses who owe more money than nursing usefullh pays wasn't it.

      Give nice sensible people who want to care for people, and by all means do complicated stuff with gadgets around it, a place to live, some money, and some nursing to do with blocks of classroom stuff, and a debt-free qualification and you'd be using a system which worked well.

      Giving them something called a degree and a big debt to pay off and you are, demonstrably, not.

      It may feel like an investment to a banker, but it shouldn't look like one to society.

      1. Paul 87

        Re: Paying and using student nurses

        Yup exactly this

        At one point people were *paid* to train to be nurses, to encourage people who might not have the money and opportunity to study to learn a lifetime profession.

        Yes, a lot left to go into private care but that's not hard to stop simply enforce a contract that if you fail to complete the training, or if you don't work for X years for an NHS Trust after completion then you owe the money back like any other student.

        On top of that, strip out a layer of management

        Get some software designed based on what frontline staff *need* to record, and not what the government *wants* them to record

        Put back the missing layer of admin staff so nurses can focus on patient care

        1. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: Paying and using student nurses

          "Get some software designed based on what frontline staff *need* to record, and not what the government *wants* them to record"

          At times, I'm not sure they know what they need.

          In December my wife gave birth to our son, and she was at a Dudley hospital for a week. I was there for the 21 hours she was in labour, and at points where she was out of her head on gas and air, I would sit and watch what was going on around us.

          The midwife and her student had a terminal in the room, which they would put their ID card on and it'd log them on. The first thing here I noticed was that every time they would log in, it would take a minute for them to be able to do anything. It seemed that at every log in the computer would load absolutely everything back up for them from scratch, as if it had just started from a cold boot. But between the two of them, both logging in to their respective accounts, and this would happen every time.

          I then found out that the maternity unit of this hospital had only just gone digital a few weeks before our boy was born. So the staff were getting frustrated with it taking forever to record an observation that they could throw in to a paper record in seconds. But the biggest frustration they had was with the system.

          This particular hospital's trust decided that they wouldn't use the (what I can gather) "Tried and Tested" system hospital trusts in Wolverhampton use. This trust would roll their own. A woman who was training to become a midwife had come from an IT background apparently, and she was tasked with designing the system they have now. I would watch them go through various screens and it was painful to watch them enter the details that they needed to. It was so long, convoluted and difficult to actually work out where a piece of information needed to go. And this was something designed by someone who would end up using it!

          1. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

            Re: Paying and using student nurses

            Was the midwife [Microsoft] (insert any mega corp name here) certified. I'm ancient (70+) and have seen so many systems that seem to have been designed to look pretty but be nightmares to use until you've been forced into daily usage for 20 years. Then its real user friendly and any change is fought tooth and nail.

            Bring back ergonomics.

            1. wolfetone Silver badge

              Re: Paying and using student nurses

              I've absolutely no idea, and I don't think the midwives would even know what I was on about if I asked.

              It's hard to describe, I would say it was probably Microsoft Dynamics and tiny checkboxes and text fields littered the page. Imagine, if you will, a WYSIWYG program someone created a form with. It was that basic to the point of unhelpful.

              I'm not sure what it is though. I could find out, but that would take 9 months!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Paying and using student nurses

              Bring back ergonomics.

              Sorry, she left with all the other EU staff when Patel kicked them out. They are foreigners, don't you know, and we don't want that sort here. This is GREAT Britain, and you can stay as long as you can only speak English and none of that foreign muck.

          2. Dante Alighieri Bronze badge

            smart card ID

            yep. they can't manage to allow you to tap and play (think of a pub till)

            We have this problem in our NHS department - the staff can't easily switch user as they are locked out every 2-5min and it takes 2-5 min to "switch user" even if previously logged in.

            Strangely generic accounts and accounts that never log out (staff on leave for the Win10 login) are not unfamiliar.

            NHS IT standards and Computer Misuse Act and professional regulation are some what compromised.

            It is all so slooooooooow, and healthcare software is increasingly "single sign on" linked to the Win10 user not understanding that quick change multi user options are required.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge

      You forgot 'weed out useless middle management.'

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Oh how I so agree with you.

        But the thing is, there will never be enough money for the N.H.S.

        There is a new treatment for cancer that cost's 278 thousand quid for 1 infusion. It is available on the N.H.S. (Beeb website for details)

        There is another treatment for some illness that costs 1.75 million per treatment. Also available on the N.H.S. (Beeb website for details)

        And so they should be.

        I have had three courses of chemo that probably cost an arm and a leg. But only cost me my N.I. contributions.

        If I had lived it the U.S. I would probably be dead as I would not be able to afford the insurance premiums.

        Look at the furore about the rise in national insurance contributions. People worship the N.H.S. As they damn well should. But there comes a point when they object to yet more tax.

        Oh and N.I. contributions were rolled into general taxation in 2007 by Chancellor Brown. They are only called "N.I.contributions" so folk don't realise how much income tax they are really paying. Like state pensions, they are no longer ringfenced.

        What is the answer? I don't know. I am just glad I am old. But I worry for my son.

    3. John 110


      "...Providing better working conditions for nurses, giving them the pay rise they deserve,..."

      Providing better working conditions for nurses etc, giving them the pay rise they deserve,

      Fixed that, by the way, I agree and also upvoted you.

      [disclaimer: I worked in a lab for 48 years -- yes I am old, why?]

    4. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

      Yeah, but all that clapping... every bit as good as a pay rise.

      Bastard, self-serving, inept governments, I hate you all.

    5. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

      -- Providing better working conditions for nurses --

      Yup, get rid of those sick persons that make a mess and interrupt the analysis session of corrie from last night

      --giving them the pay rise they deserve--

      Which is how much. Far better to stop expanding the job and demanding a graduate for it. Recruit people who care not just those who want a high wage.

      --remove the reliance of 3rd party service providers by bringing that all back in to the NHS--

      Yes, but make sure you don't then overspec the job. Ward cleaners - must have double first from Oxford.

      What you did was come up with a nice easy list of platitudes. Mine would be reverse all the changes installed by management consultants, get NICE to do their job properly and install managers that care about people not a fat salary (and yes I do agree people should be paid the correct rate for the job).

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dido Harding ...

    COME ON DOWN !!!

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Dido Harding ...

      Anonymouse Coward or not, anyone who mentions that cretins name should have a life time ban from El Reg.

      1. adam 40 Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Dido Harding ...

        I'll see your Dildo Harding (sic!) and raise you a Dawn Primarolo!

  4. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Best Wishes

    I can only hope that this IT procurement works and does help to reduce the waiting lists be scheduling appointments more efficiently, but having watched the first episode of 'This is going to hurt'*, I suspect it will take a great deal more than an IT system to have a significant effect.

    *BBC 1, 9pm, Tuesday. Based on Dr. Adam Kay's memoir of being an Acting Registrar in Obstetrics and Gynaecology - not for the squeamish or faint hearted.

    1. Dante Alighieri Bronze badge
      Black Helicopters

      Cardiac Arrest

      did it first.

      Ged Mercurio

      ...and I did the same job he did, and recognise all the charcters [names redacted to protect the ??]

      good luck using that titbit to find me.

    2. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Best Wishes

      Yes, I read the book recently and it is a very interesting insight.

      I have a friend whose daughter is about 3 or 4 years out of medial school as a doctor. Her ambition is to complete her training as a GP however this is the real killer:

      t this level a doctor's salary is around £40k however the NHS has a chronic shortage of doctors. What now happens is that a junior doctor can now earn £80k as a locum filling in the gaps where there are insufficient NHS doctors. She has talked about the moral issues around this as she want to continue training to become a GP however those numbers make the decision difficult.

      The same will be happening with agency nurses as well and this is where we have an overall problem.

      There is a shortage of NHS staff so the gap is filled using agency and locums. In order to do so, the salary has been increased out of all proportion to NHS salaried staff. This becomes a vicious circle is that difficult to break. Do you pay the junior doctors £80k to tempt them back from locum work?

      The outcome of that as there is still a shortage is that even more money will go on paying locums.

      We need more frontline NHS staff and have done for years. The pay structure for junior doctors (and that is pretty much anyone who is not a Registrar or Consultant) is fundamentally broken.

      What is interesting is that after their 7 years training doctors are one of the few groups that actually end up paying back their Student Loans. On the other side medical schools are expensive to run and although often over-subscribed, that is more due to there being insufficient places rather than too many prospective doctors.

      1. Dante Alighieri Bronze badge

        Reading Recomendation

        for you and her

        House of God : Samuel Shem

        US medical residents. Close to the knuckle at times. GOMER central.

        required reading for medical students and junior docs. If they don't know the "rules" -i encourage them to address their DEN (demonstrated educational need, for their professional portfolio etc BINGO!]

        1. hoola Silver badge

          Re: Reading Recomendation

          Yes, read that as well...

          Based in the US but an absolute hoot.

          Gomer (or is it Gomere)

          The "O" or "Q", when they reach "Q", they never come back.....

  5. iron Silver badge

    You know what would reduce the NHS waiting list - allowing doctors to do their actual jobs.

    For the last 2 years if you're an NHS doctor or surgeon whose specialty had nothing to do with COVID you've been sitting on your arse, getting paid a fortune, and not allowed to do any procedures unless the patient's condition was life threatening.

    I know of one surgeon with a patient whose kidneys are failing. He'd like to do a transplant but he's not allowed to because her condition is not yet life threatening. So this poor woman has to go through dialysis, kidney failure and the risk of dying before UK gov will let her doctor treat her properly.

    My own partner is still waiting on what her surgeon calls her 'regular service' on her stoma, a procedure she should have had in 2019. When will he be able to get her in for this procedure which is vital to ensuring she can go to the toilet comfortably and safely? He has no clue. Meanwhile he is literally being paid to play Solitaire.

    No technology will help with inhumane treatment like that.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      had nothing to do with COVID

      Isn't the same with COVID? That people are only admitted if they are actually almost dying?

      I had a friend who went to hospital because he couldn't breathe and they sent him home with nothing saying he should come back only if it gets worse. Fortunately he did make it.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        That would suggest that he *could* breath, and that he didn't actually need hospital treatment - i.e. valid triage?

    2. Nifty Silver badge

      'For the last 2 years if you're an NHS doctor or surgeon whose specialty had nothing to do with COVID you've been sitting on your arse,'

      A workmates wife who's an ICU nurse in the private sector sat at home for 6 months in 2020. All ops had been put on hold so that the private hospitals capacity could be reserved for overflow NHS Covid patients. The hospital remained empty.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Why would you down vote this ?

        Idiots all around, and it appears to be infectious

      2. Persona Silver badge

        I know a theater nurse who was deeply embarrassed by her neighbors clapping her and the NHS when she got home from work. The embarrassment was because she did no for work for over three months.

    3. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

      I would like to know which "expert" advised Boris (and presumable Nicky etc) on this since he couldn't have thought it up himself.

  6. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    AI says no

    So they are going to rearrange the queue hoping those less likely to survive will drop out thus reducing the waiting list?

    Am I reading this correctly?

    They should at very least make private healthcare tax deductible. Some people spend thousands on private doctors and thousands on NHS that they can't use.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: AI says no

      "make private healthcare tax deductible"

      A wonderful idea! Collect less tax and starve the NHS of even more money.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: AI says no

        So what someone can do if they can't afford to see a doctor privately and they need medical help? Do you have better idea?

        At least this could somewhat reduce financial burden. What's the point spending money on NHS if you can't use it?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: AI says no

          So what someone can do if they can't afford to see a doctor privately and they need medical help? Do you have better idea?

          At least this could somewhat reduce financial burden

          You go to the NHS when you need medical help, along with the other 99%+ of the population.

          If someone can't afford to see a doctor privately, making those fees or insurance policies tax-deductible won't make much of a difference to the price.

          Having more private healthcare will not reduce the financial burden. It will make things worse. Private healthcare largely depends on attracting staff from the NHS. Who were expensively trained by the NHS. Increased private healthcare may well mean more operating theatres and hospital beds. But it will bleed the NHS of skilled staff and put even more strain on its training budgets. Oh and if you get really sick in a private hospital or your insurance runs out, you'll be pushed out the door and shown the way to the nearest NHS A&E department => yet more financial burden.

          In the last couple of years the government has poured millions into private healthcare - supposedly to help with the pandemic. Those providers hardly treated any Covid patients or did much of the elective surgery that had been postponed in the NHS. One reason for that was the private sector relies on NHS resources, especially moonlighting staff, that were even more scarce than usual. Just look at the accounts of the likes of Circle and Spire to see where that money went.

          1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: AI says no

            If someone can't afford to see a doctor privately, making those fees or insurance policies tax-deductible won't make much of a difference to the price.

            Not sure what planet you are on, but e.g. £350 for a specialist appointment is a huge cost for many people. Being able to reclaim that in the tax return would make a huge difference. It's few months' worth of food for instance.

            It's better than someone see a specialist early if they suspect they may have cancer than when it is too late.

            The fact that NHS is poorly run, shouldn't be an excuse for denying people healthcare.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: AI says no

              I am not sure what planet you're on, but £70 (20% of £350) won't buy a few months' worth of food for anything bigger than a goldfish. It works out at about £1/day (best case). The weekly shop hasn't been less than a tenner since the 1960s.

              Bear in mind that if private healthcare was tax-deductible, the providers will increase their prices to take account of that. They've already decided the consumer (sorry, patient) is prepared to pay £350 after tax for a specialist appointment. Charging £450 means an extra £100 in profit that the consumer offsets against their tax bill. Which will mean more taxes elsewhere to make up for that lost tax revenue. And lots more bureaucracy and costs because everyone is now filing a tax return.

              1. Esme

                Re: AI says no

                £350 could certainly feed me or quite a while - my food budget is £20-25 per week, so that's 14 weeks fod supply...

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: AI says no

                  Its only the tax you would claim back.

                  As per the above comments, 20% of the £350 equates to £70.

                  £70, at your £25/week, would get you almost 3 weeks worth of food

              2. hoola Silver badge

                Re: AI says no

                I think the comment relates to the £350 not the saving by making it tax-deductible.

                For many £350 is a huge amount and that only gets you the consultation. If further appointments are necessary, you keep paying. Then if you need surgery or treatment, dig deep, very deep.

                So that takes us full circle., private health care whether funded directly or via insurance is unattainable for most.

            2. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

              Re: AI says no

              -- It's few months' worth of food for instance.--

              Please tell me where you are shopping. Its either much cheaper than Tesco or you don't each very much.

              1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

                Re: AI says no

                I suggest you can watch this guy videos on how to eat on the cheap

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: AI says no

            "One reason for that was the private sector relies on NHS resources,"

            Very true.

            Someone I know is undergoing chemotherapy privately at the moment. (They are getting their treatment a month earlier than they would on the NHS for a fast growing cancer). The provider, whom I shall not name, have an "emergency" helpline to their oncology nurses. When you ring it, you get told they are busy and will call you back. On more than one occasion, this has taken 6-7 hours, and *then* you are told to ring 111, and you eventually end up clogging up A&E...

            It seems that the only reason to go private is to jump the queue and get your treatment earlier.

            1. adam 40 Silver badge

              Re: AI says to jump the queue

              to jump the queue - see my post above.

              It's the "queue of death".

        2. R Soul

          Re: AI says no

          "Do you have better idea?"

          Although I'm no expert in healthcare provision, stopping further trainloads of money going to Deloittes and Dildo Harding might well be a reasonable starting point..

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: AI says no

          The government spaffed a fortune in contracts during the pandemic to the companies running private hospitals to provide extra profits... sorry, 'capacity'... little of which actually got used.

          Perhaps it's time they got them to actually do some of the some of the work they were paid for

          (see Private Eye, 'Magic Circle' in the current issue and ad nauseum)

        4. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

          Re: AI says no

          Bit like funding schools, police, street lights, local councilors. OK that last one was naughty but I stand by the others.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As one of the 300,000

    I thought I was seeing the start of the end of the waiting period, but it looks like its stalled again... No idea why and no explanation...

    The NHS needs the money, but its how/where its spent is the problem. But better pay/conditions is one issue.

    And yes, I have spent time working in IT, in a NHS Hospital.

    1. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: As one of the 300,000

      "...but its how/where its spent is the problem."

      Stop spending it on diversity managers for starters.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: As one of the 300,000


        "Stop spending it on diversity managers for starters."

        Bringing the NHS back to a health service instead of an inclusivity and transformative service might help. Or charge for those 'extra' services to help fund healthcare.

      2. hoola Silver badge

        Re: As one of the 300,000

        Getting rid of the ridiculous internal market will save millions.

        The other video nasty is all the swanky PFI funded hospitals that are costing over 6 x would they actually should and are a constant drain on resources due to fixed maintenance contracts.

        The buildings are generally not actually that good, they looked great visually when they were new but many are barely fit for purpose.

  8. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    We need to appoint more consultants and managers. Then we would know how bad it really is and how many consultants and managers we actually need to employ.

    Obviously we'd need consultants and managers to oversee the appointment of aforementioned consultants and managers ...

    1. SundogUK Silver badge

      And diversity consultants to ensure the consultants and managers that are consulting and managing your consultants and managers are sufficiently diverse.

  9. Howard Sway Silver badge

    The UK health secretary has invoked "the latest technology"

    Instead of wasting time and vast oodles of money on still-unproven AI gimmickry and organising big grabs of our health data for big tech companies, maybe it could have been better spent on actually treating patients instead.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: The UK health secretary has invoked "the latest technology"

      maybe it could have been better spent on actually treating patients instead.

      Are you not afraid of posting such radical ideas on the internet?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The UK health secretary has invoked "the latest technology"

      If it was 1985 I would be impressed with "Using digital technology and data systems to free up capacity," and think great things are about to happen.

      But it is 2022, so I just sob quietly into my palms, whilst slowly shaking my head.

  10. TimMaher Silver badge

    An extra 350 million a week.

    Nuff said.

    1. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: An extra 350 million a week.

      Already happening.

      Nuff said.

  11. R Soul

    What could possibly go wrong?

    Chucking zillions at the likes of Deloitte and Dildo Harding is sure to fix the NHS. Just look at how the Test and Trace thingie worked out.

    What the NHS really needs is more front-line staff (doctos, nurses, etc) with the tools ro do the job.

    1. First Light Silver badge

      Re: What could possibly go wrong?

      Yes, and if only the UK had a source of qualified nursing and other medical staff on its doorstep and freedom of movement to allow them to work . . .

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What could possibly go wrong?

        NHS staff in England are:

        1.1m British

        32k Indian

        25k Filipino

        14k Irish

        10k Polish

        10k Nigerian


        7k Italian

        5k or fewer for other EU nationals. Recruitment from the EU has never been significant, we've always recruited far more from English-speaking ex-commonwealth countries, all of which can continue as before (as can Irish recruitment, of course).

        1. Hawkeye Pierce

          Re: What could possibly go wrong?

          I think I know where you got those numbers from, but if I'm correct, then you seriously need to review the countries you believe are in the EU! There's a lot more than "5k or fewer for other EU nationals" including 5K Spanish, 5K Romanian, 3K Greek for starters.

          Amounts to around 5.4% of the total NHS staff but a greater proportion of medical staff - 8.7% of doctors.

          And that's as of March 2021 by when many EU NHS workers had left. Wouldn't have said that was insignificant.


          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What could possibly go wrong?

            Sorry, I meant that to be taken as fewer than 5k each from any other countries. The total EU contingent is still very low, most foreign recruitment is unaffected by Brexit-related changes, and being increased.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What could possibly go wrong?

        Take a day off and give it a rest.

    2. Flywheel

      Re: What could possibly go wrong?

      Have a beer for spelling Ms Harding's name right.

  12. Scott Broukell

    Here we go again!

    This is like hanging baubles on the dying stump of an Xmas tree. There is little or no healthy foundation of growth and development left on the desiccated remains of the tree (NHS) and yet those in high office deem it a suitable moment, despite financial pressures from all sides, to distract attention away from a very dire situation and proceed with applying some costly shiny shiny decorations instead of getting the bedrock fundamentals back into shape first!

    It is so obviously a complete dereliction of duty and care towards the populace and our most treasured public health facilities in order to take attention away from the utter crapfest that mires the current holders of that high office as they continuously prioritise ways of directing funds towards their own ilk, rather than towards the delivery of such services that the majority of the populace rely on!

    Be clear and honest about the matter please, just for once! Do you want to run the NHS into the fecking ground and force us all to pay into private care packages, with personalised health apps on our phones and all our personal health data, and more, passed into the hands of private companies? - asking for a friend, or two, or a hundred or many millions!

  13. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

    Anyone else feel like this?

    "What are you going to do about the waiting lists, health secretary? Hire more doctors? Train more nurses? Build more hospitals?"

    "Er... well first, we're going to upgrade Word."

    "And what are you going to do next?"

    "Well not much really. I mean, that should sort it, shouldn't it?"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone else feel like this?

      Surely you need to upgrade the fax gateway first!

  14. Dr Scrum Master

    Stop Worshipping the NHS

    Politicians need to stop treating the NHS as an idol to be worshipped.

    Aspects of it are better than similar aspects in some other countries.

    Other aspects of it are worse than similar aspects of it in some other countries.

    Nye Bevan was idealistic regarding the NHS. Instead, it is a never ending money pit where people make more and more demands of it.

    Meanwhile, later politicians have played around with it, increasing bureaucracy (while the NHS is already wasteful) and reducing capacity.

    Meanwhile, the per capita rate of doctors in the UK has increased over the last few decades, while the time it takes to see a GP has increased. Clearly there are systemic faults to be addressed.

    The UK has had decades to fix care provision - it's not a health service, it's a sickness service - and no politician is brave enough to grasp the nettle.

    Do sell the NHS.

    Then we can go and buy a decent health service from some other country - there are plenty to choose from.

    1. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Stop Worshipping the NHS

      re: "Meanwhile, the per capita rate of doctors in the UK has increased over the last few decades, while the time it takes to see a GP has increased."

      Many of the new doctors have a desire to work part time and/or take career breaks. While that's entirely reasonable it does mean the return-on-investment in their training is substantially lower than the doctors that work full time through a whole career, and that a raw count of doctors doesn't correlate to availability of GPs.

      1. hoola Silver badge

        Re: Stop Worshipping the NHS

        Contracts, it is all about contracts.

        GPs are paid lots of money and now many surgeries are run by third party companies that are nothing to do with the NHS and everything to do with making money.

        Then we have the patient data grabs.

        Okay, so I know that a GP has spent years training and that once in a surgery (practice now) they have overheads however many are taking the micky, particularly with Covid.

        I simply do not understand how a practice can pretty much refuse all in-person appointments, refuse a home visit for someone who is bed-bound etc.

        On the latter when they did finally agree it was a third-party service provider and it reached the point were the situation had been left so long an ambulance had to be called. A relatively straight forward issue that (even allowing for travel time) would have taken an hour, was delayed by nearly 24 hours because of the third party provider. They turned up shortly after the ambulance.

    2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: Stop Worshipping the NHS

      Dr Scrum Master "Do sell the NHS.

      Then we can go and buy a decent health service from some other country - there are plenty to choose from."

      Do you really trust the current UK government to buy something genuinely better than the current NHS for less money?

      For example, the NHS and local government had an effective national test and trace facility for diseases well before the Covid-19 outbreak. This covered reportable diseases like measles, scarlet fever, mumps, rubella, and other highly contagious and dangerous diseases. But the current PM installed Dido Harding to set up a completely new and independent outsourced Test and Trace system just for Covid-19, without, as far as I can make out, making any use of existing systems. They refused the offers of using existing DNA checking facilities in companies and institutions and insisted on creating their own enormous centres for testing (which had problems when staff got infected and had to close down). The SAGE group stated that the Covid-19 Test and Trace operation had only a marginal effect on reducing the epidemic in the UK, yet Harding and Johnson claim it was a major success.

      I don't know what the solution is, but I don't think that buying a new national health service (probably form the USA) at a higher price* is not the answer.

      * "In pounds per head, that's £2,892 on healthcare for every person in the UK and £7,617 per person in the US. ...

      Reality Check verdict: If you look at every penny spent on health by anyone in the country, then the UK spends about half as much on health as the US does. But if you compare the amount spent on the NHS with the amount spent by the US government on public healthcare, the difference is much smaller."

  15. LateAgain

    Ha hahaha ha ha


  16. hammarbtyp

    Using digital technology and data systems to free up capacity,"

    They forgot top add "blockchain" and "quantum" in the spec

    1. adam 40 Silver badge

      and Web 3.0

      Lol - the "Non-fungible Health Service"

  17. Dante Alighieri Bronze badge

    downvote ahoy!!

    I work in the NHS in imaging (posts passim)

    We are at a recruitment crisis - the baby boomers are leaving/left, next gen going early and there is a perverse incentive.

    If I work 1* session (4 hours) in an NHS job, I get another 8 hours for supporting professional activities [SPA, look it up], including staying on the GMC register. I get 3/10ths of a salary (80-100k ish) *(might be 2 or 3)

    I can then spend the whole of the rest of my time working for parasite external reading companies that do piece rate fees.

    Strangely my colleagues that can barely manage 12 CT reports in 4 hours can do 15+/hour.

    Outside of working time directive limits.

    Of course there are (wink) controls in place - we are not allowed to do our own home work. Just everyone else's, who are doing the same for us.

    For balance - the external firms are much better at quality control than the NHS (double "reads").

    FFS they don't require eyesight tests for people whose job is looking at stuff.

    Good luck increasing scanning in the NHS/high street - you can find people to take the pictures (maybe. really? - never).

    Finding those that can look at them - not so much.

    And there is a difference to non-UK trained as to their recommendations and reports - multiple additional tests rather than an opinion is clearly demonstrated across multiple trusts and organisations.

    Outsourcing invariably recommends yet more scans/tests and fails to reference (available to them if they take time) previous. Fee/item doesn't seem to excite them to wait more time to recall older studies, which i don't understand </sarc>

    For clarity : I have worked in the private sector in addition to a >full time NHS post. I have done a small amount of additional locally paid extra work in the past before "outsourcing" existed.

    I currently refuse to do additional outsourcing as I see it as unethical.

    And no, I've not been sitting on my arse. I'm one of few in my speciality in the UK that actually do invasive procedures, including biopsies to take diagnosis forward. Apparently in my speciality recruitment crisis you can deny any ability to do a biopsy (core requirement) and be put in post with that limitation on practice.


  18. JohnMurray

    Fantasmagorical latest tek-no-logy

    Surely another joke?

    Most of the tech is years old, running outdated OS.

    No matter how good the tech is, no doctors/nurses = no treatment.

    No beds = no treatment.

    My radiotherapy will be courtesy of the local hospitals nuclear medicine provider, in London (70 miles away). 1 treatment each day, for 30 days. Outpatient.

    Local hospital MSK provider is 35 miles away, as is their Cardio-Pulmonary.

    Call me radical, but sending patients in pain to a pain-management clinic 40 miles away seems a bit sadistic?

    From the quantity of "management consultants" (surely an oxymoron) required, I would guess that £500 million is not serious. That would buy a lot of coffee machines and desks, but few doctors and consultants.

  19. s. pam

    Great -- another £500M blown on luvvie consultants

    FFS why don't they instead pour the money into visa changes, international recruiting, and build some new hospitals.

    Taxpayers have suffered FAR TOO MUCH with luvvie consultantcy after luvvie consultantcy coming in, making grandios announcements and SFA comes from it. Then they're fired and a.n.other luvvie consultantcy gets hired.

    HIRE MORE STAFF, not paying luvvie consultantcies

    1. Dante Alighieri Bronze badge


      that there are international graduates available to recruit.

      10 years (yes pre-Brexit) shows that we can't staff our department at skeleton levels let alone a level that can let us do *all* our own work.

      The only thing COVID did, was a brief period where we didn't "outsource" our scans as activity dropped to 40% baseline. We are already back for >12months at >125%.

      And activity continues to grow at >10%/year, staffing is static or shrinking in all areas of the department.

      Yes we need to kick out a few malicious managers, but NHS is actually very lightly & also poorly managed. And it is a federal system - each trust is it's own "state". with NO federal government.

      I agree we could do with an honest conversation about core/non-core service probably through focus groups who can be educated sufficiently to understand consequences (there are examples that achieve this)

      Limited list of approved interoperable solutions with central fianancial support would quickly level the IT playing field. Hell, the VA runs one system across the whole US (*when I was there in 2002)


  20. Flywheel

    Future dates rely on being re-elected

    I love (not really) the way these politicians cheerfully throw dates at us as to when things will happen. Obviously, the new technology Machine that goes PING can't be magicked up overnight, but it does give Javid et al some leverage in getting re-elected. "We're the only party that can clear the waiting list.. but only if you suckers vote us in again"...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'digital technology'... order more fax machines!

  22. cyberdemon Silver badge

    The doctor will see you now.

    See icon --->

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Quote: "....because the NHS has little room for manoeuvre when trying to increase capacity...."

    Now why would that be? Could it have anything to do with persistent UNDER-INVESTMENT? In facilities, in infrastructure, in people?

    I'm reminded that George Osborn was a fan of "austerity" a time when interest rates were near zero.....and so capital projects could be funded essentially at cost!!!

    But no.....that opportunity has gone......interest rates are rising.....and what we hear today is whining about "little room for manoeuvre"......................

    Can't plan for the future when you have the opportunity to do so..............and then tax citizens when the sh*t hits the fan!!!!

  24. Esme

    Just a thought...

    Howsabout rejigging the NHS so that it is run exactly the way it was when i were a lass? Back then, you could walk into most GP surgeries without an appointment, and generally be seen within an hour. marvellous! And not a computer in sight. And no outside contractors doing cleaning - the cleaners were all NHS staff.

    Now, I'm not suggesting that computers don't have their uses - nowadays we've sophisticated pieces of medical kit that rely on computing power in order to work. And I'm not suggesting that practices that are actually better now than they used to be back then be ditched, either. But I do think that taking a serious look at how the NHS used to work so well decades ago, comparing it to how its working now, and then trying to implement the best of both eras might help rather than just slinging money at IT and managers all the perishing time!

  25. Evil Scot
    Paris Hilton

    Do they take us as complete idiots?

    I spent over a year Pre-Pandemic waiting for surgery. In order to clear the backlog a private hospital picked up the work.

    But cancelled us because we attended an NHS hospital for LFTs.

    A further two weeks wait was no skin of my nose for the NHS hospital to put me under the knife.

    Do they now take me for an Idiot that a super new booking system will make up for a lack of surgical capacity in the Urology department.

  26. Binraider Silver badge

    Deal with the backlog, by losing the data. Problem solved.

    And in the meantime, how many staff can you put on the frontline (assuming there ARE staff to put on the frontline) for that amount of cash?

    More Tory funnelling cash to mates while strengthening the argument for privatisation. One is not surprised.

  27. Handlebars

    I work in this area. You can't even get reliable data on how long people have been waiting. Managers who know nothing about medicine or IT keep signing off purchases of rubbish health IT systems. Obvious total bollocks like being able to book appointments in the distant past including before the patient was born. Being able to enter future dates in date of birth fields. Being able to enter 4 digit BMI values (yes, 4 digits before the decimal).

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