Tuesday 1 February 2011

Medicine with Economics

I am a Biology Lecturer. I am proud to say that several of my students have gone on to study medicine and now use some of the biology they have learned to help others.

Doctors are very talented individuals. Entry requirements are high and for good reason. Many doctors, including GPs make life and death decisions every day.

A good biology student will use maths, I teach my students several aspects of it in my lectures: The understanding of molarity and concentration and how it is applied to drug dosage. How statistics can be used to critically analyse their research and the findings of others. Doctors also need knowledge of stats to avoid being conned by drug reps. Will doctors now have to be subjected to further advertising and hassle by 'services reps' from private companies who want a slice of the NHS Budget? I hope not.

I have never taught economics in biology, I love my subject but I never get round to teaching balance sheets and budget statements, I can't find a chapter in any human biology book on it. Which brings me to my point.

Doctors time is not cheap and it should be spent making diagnosis decisions not monetary decisions. There are better qualified people who love balance sheets and budget statements, they come out of the economics department. Some of those become managers and that is great but I wouldn't ask an economist to decide whether a mole on my back was cancerous or not. Nor would I ask my doctor for help with my tax return.

I find myself in the strange position of defending managers. Maybe they are too many of them in the NHS, maybe doctors do need a greater input into budgeting, but NHS reforms in England are not about these issues. The coalition NHS reform is about making a first step in the wrong direction, towards the privatisation of a healthcare system which is (or was) the envy of the world.


David Lindsay said...

We should make as much use as possible of the NHS while there still are any hospitals in places like the North East, and while they are still permitted to treat anyone on less than David Cameron's thirty million pounds.

Unknown said...

Lansley has welcomed the 'natural break' in the this bill, and said he will carry out a consultation, I hope he consults a doctor (or two) This is a wobble but not the U turn, like the one on forests, that I hope for.

PS If you havent already; type Lansley Rap into youtube...