NHS reforms falter

The NHS is perhaps starting to wish that all it had to deal with was the frailty of an ever ageing population and the odd case of Clostridium difficile. The King's Fund think-tank investigation into its much-vaunted pay review has found the system to be 'costly' and 'rushed'. The basic problem is nothing new: the reforms, which took four years to negotiate and another three to implement, just haven't done the job.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010
The Agenda for Change, the largest pay review in NHS history, was rolled out nationally in 2004, intended to tie pay more closely to jobs and make career progress clearer, to the benefit of staff and, ultimately, patients. The latest forecast says that the programme may well end up costing £2.2bn. Alarmingly, NHS staff are apparently less satisfied now than they were before the process began. Talk about an adverse reaction to treatment. And this despite the fact that, through the pay review, one million NHS staff will see their pay jump 10% over the next three years. Not to mention recent reports that half of our GPs pocket more than £100,000 a year.

Perhaps NHS staff shouldn't have got their hopes up too high. The organisation is already experiencing the problems of implementing widespread change with its disastrous £12bn electronic patient records programme.

There are of course other industries in which protagonists receive ever-fattening salaries yet fail to add any value. It reminds us of Sven-Goran Erikson, who famously took £3m a year to helm England's football team, only to foster yet another generation of flops. And didn't that make the nation sick as a parrot?

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