Friday, December 01, 2006

Chapter 13 - The Future of the NHS

This is a summary of chapter 13 - the future of ophthalmology (eye specialty). It was written by Dr Nick Astbury, President of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and is a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust.

He belives that the debate about plurality of providers is particularly relevant in ophthalmology, as cataract surgery is the most commonly performed elective procedure in the UK. The specialty has been a leading innovation with a highly successful initiative conceived by the College in partnership with the government. NHS staff, by embracing new technology have dramatically reduced waiting times. But he warns that the future does not lie with commercially driven independent sector treatment centres staffed by overseas doctors on working vacation, who to date, have carried out just 2.5% of the cataract throughput, at considerably greater cost. Experience has revealed that we should be investing in our own hospital departments that are more than capable of delivering an excellent, innovative and local service.

He believes that the future rests in all of our hands, to a greater or lesser extent. What we do today directly affects our patients and those around us; we can set a good example to others or lead them astray. But there will always be events over which we have no control and governments that impose change for changes’ sake rather than building on existing good practice.

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