NHS medical director speaks of fallout from City bankers’ ‘financial greed’ in message to staff
THE country’s top health boss has warned staff at the Royal Free Hospital they will have to “do more for less” and forecast that the NHS will suffer a £20billion shortfall over the next three years.
Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the NHS, delivered a doom-laden lecture to around 200 health professionals packed into the Hampstead hospital’s auditorium.
Royal Free chief executive David Sloman, who is being forced to consider merging with the Whittington Hospital because of the funding crisis, sat in the front row as Sir Bruce blamed the “financial greed” of City bankers for forcing the “large-scale changes”.
“We are in a very, very bad financial position,” said Sir Bruce. “We are in the worst economic crisis since the Second World War and 80 per cent of our GDP is being used to pay off our national debt. It was around 40 per cent at the end of the war. What that means is that money available for public services is being dramatically reduced because a large proportion is going on reducing our national debt. We cannot expect the NHS to be free from impact.
“If we continue doing what we do now in the same way we are going to have to reduce our services. I don’t really know how we are going to handle it. But I see it as an opportunity for change.”
Professor Keogh, a former cardiac surgeon at UCLH, said clinicians would have to “take risks” and that managers could make cash savings by adopting the “mindset” of the private sector.
“The public sector buries its head in the sand and waits for the storm to pass – well this storm is not going to pass,” he said. “The private sector innovates based on customer wants. We need to get in that mindset.”
Sir Bruce said he wanted “true leaders” to usher in a new era of innovation.
He said: “True leaders look outside the boundaries of their speciality and at how they can interact with others. They are prepared to innovate and take risks. As the NHS emerges from a decade of a target-focused, risk-averse, financially driven culture asking people to demonstrate risk taking at a local level is a big ask. But true leaders can help others experiment with medicine.”
Sir Bruce ended his speech with news of a new government “attack” on Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). DVT, when the blood clots in the veins, is often caused by surgery or long spells lying in hospital wards.
He said: “It is estimated that 38,000 people die in hospitals each year from DVT. That is more than die from strokes each year. There will be extra funding to prevent DVT in hospitals – but it will only be available if trusts assess 90 per cent of patients on admissions.”
Sir Bruce was the guest speaker at the annual conference of the Society of Academic & Research Surgery (SARS) held at the Royal Free Hospital this year.