The NHS – Survival or Opportunity

We don’t intend to be sensational or scaremongering but the quote is from an Essex GP.

The government has admitted that the boom spend on the National Health Service during the Naughties will officially come to an end in 2011.  This announcement should not have been a surprise to anyone who to has to budget; we simply cannot afford the NHS in its present form.

So what does this mean for doctors and dentists? Survival is the negative way of looking at it – opportunity is definitely’s way of looking at it.

The opportunity comes from the NHS needing to divest itself of providing primary healthcare to save costs.  As we have seen with dentists, this has taken the form of tendering for NHS contracts.  When we take part in these tenders with our customers, we are amazed at how business naïve many dentists and doctors are.  This isn’t meant to be a criticism of you professionals; you are trained to be dentists and doctors, not business people!  Therefore you are unable to frame your submissions in a way to maximise your chances of success.  So you tend not to win the contracts but in the majority cases where we help you we do!  So dentists are having to compete against other dentists.  The operative word here is competition; dentists are having to learn how to compete with each other for contracts and for (private) patients.

In medicine, such tendering and competition has not happened yet and will not happen until the government stops paying doctors on a capitation basis.  And that may well happen.  Already though we have seen practice based commissioning (PBC) (or world class commissioning as the NHS tries to convince us!) and Darzi centres.  Or, as has happened with the dentists, doctors may opt to go private in the hope of preserving the earnings the NHS simply cannot afford to pay you any more.