Many people have a different view on healthcare policy today. A person will often prefer to purchase over the counter medicine as opposed to queuing for a doctor’s prescription in a general hospital (Parkin 2009, P 44). With the changing times, people are more consumerist choosing to exercise the power of choice. The public also wants an array of information and advice by the general practitioners and a range of health options to choose from. The patient’s expectation on public services is a central issue among public sector decision makers to curb challenges faced in the health sector (Paton 2006, P 82).
The new labor and coalition health policy, has been designed to cater for the patient and bring a new attitude towards public health service. The main aim of the reforms is to improve and increase uniform health service across the country that will limit delegation, responsiveness and scope of diversity (Paton 2006, 82). Choice has become a factor to develop the growing need of quality, reduced costs and respond to patients’ preference in the health service. When patients can choose between alternatives, then the health sector is bound to match quality and provide the best cost for health care. The main aim of the labor and coalition is to match the taxpayer’s money with the health service (White 2010).
The new labor and coalition health care policy
Before the year 1990, National Health Service was viewed as a monopolistic service with limited choices for the patients to seek and purchase additional medical services. The patient was to register with the general practitioner within the geographical area and the health care services was offered at the local general hospital (Driver and Martell 2005, P128). The motivation to bring new reforms to public health sector was due to a review in the late 1980’s that the National Health Service was in need of an internal market for better allocation of resources.
The main aim of the health policy was to separate the provider of health care, both public and private and the purchaser of services, that is the commission. Secondly, to allow patients choose who to provide services to them, and lastly avail sufficient information to patients to allow them to exercise choice. For the public health sector to improve their provision of services, the patient must be able to exercise choice, choice is interpreted according to the NHS as choice for treatment in any hospital. The patient’s to exercise choice they must be well informed of their right to make decisions about their care and know they have the right to choose (Wheeler and Grice 2009, P 209).
The new and labor coalition gave patients the right to choose who provides their health care needs, and this meant the right to choose a hospital. By 2006, patients had the right to choose from four hospitals for any specialist outpatient consultation. This policy was welcomed by many patients who had been succumbed to have been limited to one general practitioner, without referral. This saw the patients back then settle for the limited health care services or pay from their own pockets for extra services. By the year 2008, patients had the freedom to choose any NHS hospital and even register with a private provider (Powell 2008, P 30).
The patients need to have access to information, in order for them to exercise, their right to choose, therefore, the policy introduced an electronic chooses and book system that shows general practitioner’s surgeries. This allows the doctor to book appointment with their patients directly (Paton 2006, P 82). A website was also developed to show the NHS choices that list hospitals and its general practitioner. It also provides a list of services provided and , access time and regulatory assessment.
The policy attempt to facilitate choice has not been met with criticism, where many patients still claim that despite the facilitation of choice; a large number of patients have not been presented with the right information to choose from. NHS has its preferences on quality of different health providers; this however, may not meet the quality of the patients (Brennan 2005,P 225). The choice of patient also enables them to choose a consultant led team, the commitment to develop and provide accessible information on quality to patients.
The new labor and coalition health policy created a NHS board to develop a continuity of proper health care and quality service provision. The policy was to see that a general practitoner budget is set which will assist in allocating of funds to each consortium for purchasing of services. The consortium was to provide a system of accountability of funds and how they are managed. Each consortium will have full financial responsibility of how the funds are used in provision of health care. The last is national commissioning, to regional and National Health Service offered. This strategy introduced by the new policy will ensure increases provision of service for patients in both the public and private health sector (White 2010, P 141).
An integrated electronic health record, supported by nurse-related experiences as well as access of information is bought by the policy to improve the performance of healthcare and increase attention to the tasks carried out (Carter 2008, P 12). This reduces traffic in the work place because most of the cumbersome work such as retrieval of health records is automated in the system. Systems help the personnel retrieve information where they need it and when they need it, thus improving their performance in serving the patients. This is as a result of having well trained nurses with good systems and available literature (Busch 2008, P 42).
The electronic health records systems, was introduced by the reform due to the need of patients management, from record diagnosis to medication records. Some of the benefits of the EHR systems are to improve access to the broad records in the health centre meaning that all records will be easily retrieved when needed. The second benefit is that this system helps to save a lot of time and energy because accessing information is ease because all data is available in the computer. Centers that use manual records, take a lot of time and sometimes this records are at risk of getting lost
The third benefit involves cutting down of cost, this systems involves entry of data and therefore, stationery costs are cut tremendously. There is also no need of extra shelves, files and an extra room to save the records because all the data can be stored in the computer (Busch 2008, P 43). Communication within personnel is also improved, which betters the personnel’s performance. General Practitoner’s can easily access the patient’s medical history; they can also administer drugs accordingly without waiting for the nurse to retrieve the file. Nurses also can organize their work due to the scheduled timetable application. The fourth advantage is that the system helps improve business process, this means eradication of protocols and serving clients fast and efficiently. This could also include handling the patients with insurance or patients paying with credit card in an efficient way, this gives customers confidence on the quality service and they keep coming back (Carter 2008, P 15).
Lastly, Carter (2008) states the electronic health record system provides clinical decision support and assists the personnel at the health center to make fast decision (15). In case a patient at the hospital comes in critical condition, the patient’s record can assist the nurses to start fast treatment and ensure the patient is well taken care of on time.
The new labor and coalition health policy also incorporated informatics in health care. Informatics is the study of the application of information technology; therefore, medical informatics is the science or a study of managing information for healthcare, education, research and administration (Paton 2006, P 83). This study involves applying approaches like evaluating and integrating information technology, along with its procedures.
Informatics impact general practitioner in a healthcare in different ways, one of them is fast and efficient printing of patients medical report, this is because medical records are electronically supported (Carter 2008, P17). Secondly, it assists in decision making because the research outcomes are developed systematically with the use of standard systems. Informatics increases the quality of care, and reduces the number of errors occasionally made, because the computer is able to keep track of all the details in the health centre (Parkin 2009,P 45). The policy by 2008 saw that the general practitioner’s had the necessary tools to provide quality care for patients seeking specialized treatment. The level of improving medical technology is gradually increasing to provide fast and efficient services to the patients.
The majority of people depedant on NHS need choices that are more informed and this gives the patient to exercise their rights. This policy further sees this by restoring the right of general practitoners to refer patients to the hospital of their choice. The patients if not satisfied with the service provided by the GP, then the patient has a right to ask for referral. Sometimes a patient may require specialized treatment, which they may feel confident, done in another hospital; the patient then has the right to transfer under referral by the hospital GP to the hospital of their choice (White 2010, P 142).
Because the policy upholds the right of the patient to be well informed, the hospital is required to publish information on specialty. The hospital should thereby list the number of general practitioners, their qualifications and field specialization (Driver and Martell 2005, P 127). This will give the patient enough power to choose whether to seek treatment in a hospital or seek an alternative. This policy was to assist patients be aware of the level of competence of the GP in the hospital and their fields of specialization.
The general hospital was also to publish information on waiting times, treatment frequency, mortality rates, re-admissions that could be avoided. The information is to be put in print and on the website for the public to access the information. This was placed to push health care facilities to provide quality healthcare in order to have a clean track record (Powell 2008, P 31). A hospital with a high number of mortality rate and re-admissions is bound to have less patients and it will review its service and health workers’ qualifications. On the other hand, this assisted patients because they are no longer obliged to seek healthcare in such hospitals. The changes help defuse the criticism on NHS service that has a duty towards taxpayers, to make the money be valuable to people who need it and have earned it.
The advantage of the new reforms is that there is no strain involved when obtaining health services. Sometime the National Health Service endeavors to cover for all medical bills plus medication, and the process of accessing the service has been eased reducing queues and protocol (Wheeler and Grice 2009, P 210).
The reforms has offered wide policy changes, this means it is easy to find a health services that suits ones need and income level. Group policy is available for low-income earners in most states; this means that any person from all walks of life can have a medical cover at all times. The premium paid by an individual, depends on the policy some policy work at a deductible rate where a policy holder pays in advance and is covered up to the amount paid. These involve the health cover paying a deductable amount either annually or monthly.
Criticism on new health policy
People are a lot of times skeptic when it comes to NHS, and some of the reasons include, Insurance frauds have lead people to begin doubting the integrity of the public health service and this has led to people saving up on in banks rather than acquire a health policy. To prevent from being robbed most people have also seeing it as an option to form saving groups for insurance. Patients have also criticized the maximum benefits set by the policy (Powell 2008, P 33). National Health Service is looked at as a scheme to make money because policyholders are taxed so much money and later is given an unfair package that does not cover most medical expenses. The company only seeks to cover general illness and injuries that are not fatal.
The health cares hospitals in charge of providing health care do not always compensate for the individuals loss because incase of ill health or injury, there is a lot of emotional and time drain and this are things that the NHS cannot compensate (White 2010, P 143). This strongly makes people believe that only the financial aspect is considered by the health policy. Lastly, the programs that exist sometimes do not meet the requirements of some people and this means one has to choose a substitute. This make the individual pay for secondary products that in real sense do not have any effect at all.
The NHS patients want to choose and they should be given the right and power to choose. Under the new policy reforms, the board recognizes the importance of power choice. Provision of information to patients, application of informatics and installing electronic health recording system is among many measures placed by NHS to improve patient’s service. Critics still have a wide range of demands to provide a comprehensive range of health service and help to keep the majority of people dependant on NHS healthy. The NHS is working continuously to improve the quality of service and to minimize errors in health care provision. The board is also keen on changing the critic’s perspectives by establishing an accountable system on how public funds are used and ensure healthcare is devoted to patients. If the mission to meet everybody’s needs at the point of delivery is met, the patient’s will then feel the value for money and realize the benefits of basic healthcare.
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