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If the NHS was a Food Outlet , what would it be ?


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When was the last time you went out for some food? Was it to a restaurant , a take away or just a bakers? The chances are that you entered into a contract with the provider of the food about what you would consume in exchange for a particular amount of money. It’s a standard transaction for a modern economy.

A few weeks ago I had a fantastic Chinese banquet. Choosing the banquet option meant that we had a bigger selection of things to choose from and savour, but this came at the price of committing to buying a bigger quantity of food than we would have consumed with a traditional three course meal.

The NHS National Health Service in the United Kingdom is in a state of transition, and has been for several years. Budgets are being adjusted ( usually downwards ) which means that there is less money to pay for as many things as before. There are increasing pressures on the remaining staff, and increasing expectation from the consumers of health care about what they choi,d be receiving.

Going back to the food model. I’d like to suggest that hospitals and many aspects of Secondary Care are like the a la carte restaurant – dishes are served up with a pre arranged price tag, except in the health scenario the customer is blissfully unaware of the cost of the item or the experience they are receiving.

General Practice , or family medicine, in the UK has more in common with the “eat as much as you like buffet”. Providing you can get through the front door, you can fill your boots with as much health advice and medication as you wish. I have enjoyed some really great buffets in my time, and some not so great ones. You generally get what you pay for – your expectation of the quality of the food inside is influenced by the expected financial cost.

Both extremes of payments for food received have their places in our society. I enjoy the chicken kebab, a la carte, and the buffet in equal measure, but should this model be relevant to health?

If a society wants to offer a 5 star buffet, it needs to pay for a 5 star buffet. If you want your set menu to have duck pancakes, then you need to pay for duck pancakes.

Great healthcare is available and can continue to be delivered in the UK. We have some skilled people working in the the NHS and many patients who value the service and who use the health service wisely.

Their is nothing wrong with choosing the 5* buffet – let’s just hope society doesn’t pay for the 3* and then complain when the duck pancakes don’t arrive.

Ps. I appreciate that this is a gross oversimplification of the way the NHS and primary care is funded.

Pps I would also like to stress that people do , generally speaking, use health care resources sparingly, and do not “abuse” the system.

Please add your comments below.

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7 comments on “If the NHS was a Food Outlet , what would it be ?

  1. englishyogi
    26/01/2013

    Dear Ideas to Share,
    I think people should be empowered to look after themselves and only use the “health outlet” if they really need it. Taking this further, I think that the outlet should be more like a cookery school for the majority; rather than a restaurant. You could be taught to cook the right recipe to meet your appetite and needs. The skilled chefs (doctors, nurses and others) would advise on the right mix of ingredients and the best way to prepare and cook, as well as serve the food. The restaurant should be ‘last resort’ because most of the meals you need: you can prepare yourself and enjoy in the comfort of your own home.
    Best wishes from a very english yogi

    • @stuartberry1
      27/01/2013

      Thanks for the comments and providing more #foodForThoughts on many levels. Give a man a fishing net ….

      ….. Then teach him to cook & and / or help him to find the most efficient way of feeding his family healthy food.

      Bundled packages if care simplify the billing process & reduce admin costs for the authorities but can create problems if there are no brakes or limits to the consumption of the thing being used up.

  2. Dave Tomlinson
    02/02/2013

    Reblogged this on .

  3. Interesting debate to be had about using foodbank / cafe principles to help raise awareness about the concept of affordable, sustainable foods as well as minimising waste working with local food providers, businesses and Incredible Edibles – Just like RAFT foodbank do

    • @stuartberry1
      02/02/2013

      Yes. Do you have any examples with website or links to media articles

  4. @MelJClem
    30/03/2013

    Building on your analogy some services are trying to offer to much. Some of us need to be a very good nandos or waganmamas- you know what you are going to get. The quality is good and consistent but we also need the more specialist and unique A La Carte restaurants for special occasions.

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