Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Patient Hotels

I’ve been building up to this idea for over a year now, the idea that we are moving into becoming a society that spends most of its people resources and a big chunk of its budget on caring for people that are connected to the medical industry.  (It used to be agriculture.)  We have more and more people who are unable to care for themselves.  The Caring Industry is the fastest growing (see an economic analysis here, research analysis here, and US health care information here).
Anyway, I don’t want to go into this in a lot of detail now, but write only to pass on information about Patient Hotels that I got by email from the UK House of Lords today.  I can envisage this developing quickly.  If you take 'patient' to mean anyone who is in and out of hospitals, requires regular medical treatment or simply had a once off serious medical treatment, there is a whole societal framework (aka infrastructure platform) developing for them.  We have the first most obvious, patients in hospitals, then patient homes (care homes), dedicated schools, colleges for patients (where carers and even nurses attend along with the student) prison patients, patient consumers, patient entertainment (facilitated for wheelchairs and carers), day care facilities for patients, patient transportation (for them in wheelchairs), patient holiday homes, and now patient hotels as shown below.
The problem is not necessarily that people have medical treatment.  The problem is that so many of those that do are never cured and many even end up dependant.  Even dependency is not the problem.  It’s the scale of the issue that makes it worrisome.  I think we need to revisit some important ethical issues and rethink quality of life in light of the increasing ability of medical science to keep people alive regardless of their inability to do anything for themselves, even down to breathing, eating and other bodily functions.
I went to a workshop to talk about research for sustainable food innovations today.  We all talked as if the majority of people in the world were more or less healthy and needing to eat real food.  What I’m realising now is that there are too many people in the world who just aren’t interested in food anymore.  They want medications when things go wrong or even just to feel better.  As it so happens, drugs are another contributor to the dependency culture.
We all know that pharmaceutical corporations pay doctors to prescribe their wares with incentives, like exotic holidays and bonuses.  Now, patients are getting in on the act.  It’s becoming less that you pay to be a patient and more that it pays to be a patient.  Like many in prisons who get themselves into trouble to be there because it’s a roof over their heads with food provided, being a patient is becoming a life-style choice.  Even if the patient is able to care for themselves after treatment and hold down employment, they normally continue to be part of the system (by needing medication and/or other regular follow-up treatment), and are bound to end up as a dependant patient.
Need a holiday?  Then get some medical treatment.  What a world we live in.
House of Lords

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the start-up costs of establishing patient hotels.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimate they have made of the projected savings of operating a system of patient hotels; and whether those savings will be reinvested into the budget of the Department of Health.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government who will manage patient hotels; to whom hotel managers will be accountable; and what avenues for redress will be available should patient hotels not meet expected standards.
·         Hansard source (Citation: HL Deb, 21 May 2013, c56W)

Earl Howe (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Quality), Health; Conservative)
The mandate for NHS England sets out the improvements in health and healthcare outcomes that the National Health Service is expected to deliver, including helping people to recover from episodes of ill health or following injury and ensuring people have a positive experience of care.
NHS England is responsible for providing leadership on clinical commissioning to improve quality, outcomes and value for money in the NHS. It is for local commissioners to work with their providers to develop innovative ways to ensure rapid recovery from an acute episode and to reduce people’s dependency on health and social care services following discharge.
NHS England will consider patient hotel models alongside a range of other tools, evidence and support to help clinical commissioners to commission best practice care.
Photo credit:  snappy Guardian article about a patient hotel on a University campus in Finland.  The photo is the view from a window in this hotel.