A very specific NHS saving

I have complained before about Mr. McGimpsey’s leadership of our health service and suggested that he might have trouble finding his “efficiency savings”. Looking at his department’s latest press release, however, there are some specific points where money could be saved or more precisely excess new spending could be avoided.

His announcement is here but I will reproduce the parts relevant to my argument below:
“Urgent Care and Treatment Centre
This will be a ‘walk-in’ unit for adults and children. It will include the following:
• Minor Injuries unit – open 24 hours daily
• 24-hour access to x-ray services including CT scanner
• Co-located GPs out-of-hours service”

Now look at another part of the announcement:

“The decision to locate the acute hospital in Enniskillen will not change – I have made that clear, just as many previous ministers have made that clear. Acute inpatient services will be provided from the new hospital in Enniskillen.”

Now any patient needing an out of hours CT scan is going to already be an inpatient or is in the process of becoming an inpatient. As such they are going to be in or going to be transferred to the new Enniskillen hospital. The “walk in centre” is not going to be adequate for their management. Even if they are later transferred to Belfast or Londonderry, they will, at presentation, be too sick for the “walk in centre”.

Hence, there is no need to have a 24 hour CT scanning service in Omagh. It will involve the expense of having a radiographer (the person who runs the scanner) available for both sites since clearly the new Enniskillen hospital will need such a person.

So money can be saved by not having an out of hours (24 hour) CT scanning service in the new Omagh hospital without any danger to patients. The problem is, as I have said before that our politicians seem unwilling to countenance any perception of a hospital being closed or downgraded.

I am sorry this is esoteric and the saving would not be vast but it is a specific point where money we can ill afford is going to be wasted for no good reasons other than parochial political ones. I await with interest, however, to see if any of our politicians are willing to challenge McGimpsey on this.

  • Mark McGregor

    Not really. It is going to provide x-ray services 24hrs so a radiographer is required and as the CT scanner will be there he/she may as well use that too.

  • Turgon

    Wrong Mark,

    A CT scanner requires a radiographer with more training than is required for an X ray machine, hence, you will need more experienced personal available. If a more junior radiographer is on he/she will need covered by a more senior one (two people instead of one on call). It would be very expensive and unnecessary to train up every radiographer in CT scanning; they have different sub interests anyway and may not all want to be CT trained. Also time will be wasted getting the machine up and running, time that the person will not be in a proper A+E department which is actually a danger. The machine since it is running more will require more servicing etc. which is a cost.

    There is no benefit in running this scanner 24 hours a day in a hospital not accepting acute inpatients. The benefit is purely political cosmesis.