Political Promise

The Conservatives’ NHS Gamble

In Newswire on June 9, 2010 at 8:41 pm

By Aaron Newell

Conservative Minister Andrew Lansley argued on Tuesday his plans to withhold hospital payments for patient re-admittance will improve hospital care by punishing hospitals that send patients home early, making this an incentive for better initial patient care.

This is hard to argue against, but with the deficit cutbacks it’s equally hard to see past its cost-saving aspect: no longer paying for re-admittances.

And here’s the gamble: The new system’s insensitive for fewer re-admittances may well mean longer bed-occupation. With that (and the scrapping of targets) waiting times could increase.

Not only is this a health gamble, it’s a political gamble. It may gift Labour with the argument: “We reduced (whisper: particularly long and inpatient) waiting times when in government. Now look at these increased waiting times. We cannot entrust our public services to the Conservatives.”

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