England's General Election
The election will take place on May 6. What does that mean for the NHS? The London Times writes that it will mean dramatic cuts in service and possibly shuttering some hospitals: www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article7115199.ece
All of the major candidates for Prime Minister; Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg and David Cameron have pledged to preserve funding for the NHS. The public is very vocal about not cutting health care services. It would make the new P.M. very unpopular if service levels were cut and if the nurses union became angry at job losses. Nurses are still the most visible allied health professionals here in the UK and have the most political clout.
Only at the very end of the article mentioned above does the idea of providing care at home get mentioned. The people of the UK seem to still have a mindset that if one is unwell, then one must go to a hospital. The community-based team that I work on has been in existence for a decade but people are still shocked, and pleased, to learn about the services they can get at home. It would appear that forward-thinking trusts, like the one I work for, are positioning themselves to be more community-based and rely less upon hospital institutions for providing care. This could have a huge cost savings and reduce the likelihood of additional hospital-acquired complications, as well as improve patient perception of care.
A very similar thing is happening back in my hometown of New York City, which just last week saw the closing of St. Vincent's Hospital, one of the largest hospitals with a designated trauma center. They were a billion dollars in debt. However, the Visiting Nurse Service of New York's CHOICE program continues to grow as they maintain the frail elderly in their own homes. A decade ago when people were talking about health care moving away from hospital-centric into the communities and the probable closure of many institutions, I didn't believe it. Now I'm embracing it.