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22nd March 2011
 
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Gas Man

News and Comment from Roy Lilley
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What sort of a person are you?  Do you give to Red-Nose Day, recycle your empty gin bottles and vote in the X-Factor?  Are you the sort that combs the internet and compares prices?  Do you shop around for gas and electricity?

 

I tried it once, for gas.  I put in the address of Lilley Towers into a comparison web-site and told them about my modest twenty eight bedrooms, double glazing in the servant's quarters and hit the go-button.  The computer had a bit of a think and decided I should switch from British Gas to Southern Electric.

 

And that was where the shemozzle began.  I had two bills from different suppliers, one an estimate. I had stroppy letters, welcome letters and we miss you letters.  I had bribery letters; we love you letters and threatening letters.  I even had emails and texts.  Shortly after I switched I was persuaded to change the tariff I was on and I am now no better off than when I started.  Somehow, I don't think competition in the utility business has worked. 

 

It seems Ofgem doesn't think so, either.  Boss-Gas has told energy firms they must offer simpler tariffs to help consumers compare prices.  Well, it's a bit late, mate!

 

So concerned is he, he is threatening to force these firms to auction off up to a fifth of the electricity they generate, making room for new companies.  And, no doubt even more complexity, costs and confusion.  Nice one!

 

The regulator said that customers were "bamboozled" by a complex system of tariffs, which have increased from 180 to more than 300 since 2008.  Too right, so; where has Boss-Gas been since 2008?

 

By the way British Gas operating profits have risen from �65 per household in September, to �90 in November, a 38% rise.  This is not regulation it is a rip-off.

 

Call me old-fashioned but it doesn't strike me that Boss-Gass is quite on top of the job.  He's let the gas companies make the running and I don't think he stands much of a chance of shoving the gas back up the pipe. 

 

I read this story and thought of the Braggadocio just appointed to run Off-sick, the quaintly named Monitor.  Regular readers will know we have highlighted David (2) Bennet a couple of times and generally he wouldn't be worth mentioning again.  He's best avoided.  Ex-McKinsey, did a spell, helping Tony at Number 10 and after, presumably they didn't want him back?

 

Mr Off-Sick makes much of the fact that he has worked in the utilities business!  If I was him I'd keep quiet about that!  Better to pretend he was a gang-master, or sex-trafficker.

 

We reported, last week, in an interview with the Times, Dave (2)  ......compared the NHS to the utility companies and 'ripe for dismemberment'. He went on; "It is too easy to say; 'how can you compare buying electricity with buying healthcare?' There are differences but there are important similarities ...... we have done this in other sectors."  

 

He boasted; "I've worked in lots of different countries in the energy sectors, in power and gas, doing exactly this..."

 

Well, may I suggest he might like to go back and see if he can sort out Boss-Gas before he tries his hand at the NHS.

 

I have previously made the obvious point; the NHS is a whole system with interdependent services.  They are called clinical linkages.  A day or two ago a reader sent me this link to a really neat graphic (Must see) of Clinical Linkages for 24 hour services.  It is the first time they have been mapped in this way.  Excellent! 

 

The services are clinically intertwined; they are also, just as importantly, financially interrelated.  The income from the soft services, the cold, elective work, the target for Mr Off-Sick's 'dismemberment', help to pay for the less lucrative and risky services such as paediatrics.

 

Of course, there are too many hospitals and the health economy can't support them all.  A sensible, well worked and tough reconfiguration programme is needed to deliver the right services, in the right place, with a soft landing. 

 

What is not needed is the 'dismemberment' of services in a moment of market madness by an unelected, mad-axe-man whose only claim to fame is; he used to be a gas man.   

 

roy.lilley@nhsmanagers.net

 

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News and Stuff

 News boy
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>>  Alistair Campbell's blog - read from the 7th paragraph. 

>>  Mortality amenable to healthcare - VERY IMPORTANT, take a deep breath and stay with me on this!  This is really good stuff from the OECD and a must-look.  Health measurements are highly subjective and not measurable by incontestable standards, depend on more than health systems and the impact of interventions is not known for some time - so amenable mortality is the way to do it.  Go to diagrammes page 16 onwards.  Guess what?  The UK does very well.  Para 34 page 18 UK has one of the highest declines in measured amenable mortality.  Inconvenient truths for LaLa. Send a copy to your MP! 

>>  Saturday is the big protest in London over public sector cuts - 24hr Tahrir Sq occupation of Trafalga Sq, planned!

>>  NAPC web-site - Go-Johnny has been busy

>>  If you only read one thing today - read this.  It is an analysis (great graphs), by John Appleby from the King's Fund, about patient satisfaction.  It is published in today's BMJ.com.  There are higher levels of satisfaction that at pretty well any time in the history of the world!  Another inconvenient truth for LaLa.