Reports of a new £44,000 bathroom suite for the Department of Health has stirred up controversy for Jeremy Hunt.
The bathroom is being built for staff who cycle into work over long distances. According to The Sun the suite will include a designer toilet, power shower and sensor activated lights.
Whilst the health secretary has denied that the bathroom will be for his own use, it’s still a startling use of taxpayers’ money, especially when the government has told the NHS to make £22 billion worth of efficiency savings by 2020.
With the NHS being understaffed, overburdened and underfunded, £44,000 could be a small but significant investment into improving one, or some of the Trusts and hospitals around the country.
Earlier this year we saw the WannaCry attack devastate a number of NHS Trusts across England, causing services to stop and digital systems to be unable to use.
The government have promised £21 million for the NHS to combat cybersecurity, but this will be implemented over a number of years. So what could £44,000 do for the NHS now?
With 3% of endpoints using Windows XP, the NHS could use the money to upgrade the operating system it uses on its PCs. A Windows 10 Pro package costs on average £220, meaning the NHS could upgrade 200 PCs to an operating system that is more secure against cyber-attacks.
Diabetes and its complications currently costs the NHS an estimated £14 billion a year making it a huge hindrance to the healthcare service. The budget for the department of health’s bathroom wouldn’t make a dent in the cost of diabetes, but it could provide necessary glucose monitors to thousands of people. An average blood glucose monitor costs between £10-15, meaning around 3,000 people could benefit from a device to monitor their blood sugar and take better care of themselves.
Reducing the pressure
Earlier this year Jeremy Hunt reaffirmed a commitment for A&E departments to maintain the four-hour waiting time target. This was announced following a winter that had seen patients being left in corridors, a lack of beds and A&E departments struggling under the pressure. For the NHS to succeed healthcare needs to be accessible and willing to meet the demands of peoples’ busy lifestyles. Online GP and prescription services hold the key to both providing convenient access to healthcare and reducing the pressure on the NHS. The digital GP service Dr Now is one business that offers people access to healthcare whenever it suits them. At only £7.99 a month the service is fairly affordable and can help reduce the burden on the NHS. The NHS can surely benefit from competing services such as Dr Now and £44,000 would see a lifetime subscription easily covered.
Something for the staff
Lastly how about new bathrooms for the hardworking staff of the NHS who work long hours in a demanding and stressful environment. We know that nurses are unlikely to receive a pay rise anytime soon even when wages have been static for years so any sign of appreciation is surely better than none.