What the NHS could learn from the Grameen Eye Hospital

Monday, December 20, 2010

By Sam Conniff

I have learnt that arguing about introducing pay at the point of service charging to the (National Health Service) NHS, with your wine glass fully loaded, with people who sell life saving pharmaceuticals at a tidy profit, is not an ideal technique for getting invited back to dinner parties.

Health is one of those topics that people feel very strongly about, it causes debate, it causes upset, and it’s been known to cause people to throw wine over their fellow guests.

While I reluctantly concede that the NHS is not the world leader it was, and there are arguments for competitive advantage and free market efficiencies, at the same time I can’t help feeling that there are some things we shouldn’t profit from.

I accept that the NHS does need a shot in the arm. And, there seems to be a prescription on offer that says social enterprise is the panacea to our sick system, but I haven’t met the doctor or social entrepreneur yet who’ll second that diagnoses. We need some radical models to inspire and excite our thinking and not blind belief and hope, even if it is social enterprise or right to request shaped.

Last month a visit to rural Bangladesh totally revolutionised my understanding of how a hospital can be run. The Grameen Eye Hospital in Bogra is a place of such streamlined efficiency the German Rolls Royce engineer I was visiting with nearly cried.

Initially patients are given an eye test, after which they are efficiently channelled into further testing and treatment. The ultra effective squeaky clean hospital flows the patients seamlessly on their journey to the operating theatre, where three surgeons work simultaneously.

Source: The Guardian (link opens in a new window)