The role of external, private contractors and consultants working in the NHS is rarely one met with much support by the person on the street. The widely held belief is that the NHS is a gravy train with the majority of media reports focussing on high day rates and failed projects.
As a nation, we are very protective of our NHS; looking upon it like a favourite grandparent. Any report of bogus tradesman ‘taking granny for a ride’ resounds with us all. As a member of the public, a recent beneficiary of the amazing care delivered by the frontline staff of the NHS and Managing Director of an NHS contractor, I have experience of the argument from all sides.
However, the Veritas story is different to those in the news. I started Veritas in 2007 because I wanted to make the NHS even better and I believe passionately in working to improve it. I wanted to help the organisation drive down costs, increase quality of care and put the patient back at the heart of the situation.
A working example of our role is where we have helped several NHS Trusts create a more efficient community equipment service, which ensures they get the right equipment to the right people at the right time. This is not just about service levels though. To set up a fit-for-purpose equipment service we have to consider maintenance, logistics and staffing, all of which can tie up valuable capital. So in many respects our primary role is in efficiency and better procurement.
But as a business, our objective also considers improved care and, taking the example above, we have redesigned the way in which equipment services are delivered, so it once again becomes about the patient. For instance, in the event of someone being discharged from hospital to die peacefully at home (rather unceremoniously referred to in the NHS as an ‘end of life strategy’), those Trusts that have worked with us, will have all of the necessary equipment delivered and set up at the patient’s house within 4 hours of the discharge notice. Given that ‘equipment’ can include huge hydraulic beds and hoists, this kind of turn-around would challenge most private businesses.
So, I for one believe that some consultants can, and regularly do, deliver huge value and savings to the NHS and the example above is just one area where my vision for Veritas is delivering – day-in, day-out.
I don’t write this in defence of all contractors, as I know there are elements in my profession that let the side down and nor do I write this as justification of our own role. I write it because of my respect and passion for the NHS and, as one of the ‘good guys’, our story is rarely heard. So it’s just to say that: whilst we don’t sell as many papers as the bad boys, we are here, we do exist and we, like you, are just as in love with the NHS and all that it stands for.