The NHS indirectly kills thousands with its waiting lists for life-saving treatment, outdated equipment, rationing of essential drugs, and infections such as MRSA. On the latter issue, official figures suggest that more than 30,000 people have died from hospital infections in the last five years.
There is also shocking evidence that our state healthcare system is incapable of even the basic task of ensuring patients are fed properly. Not only did the number of NHS malnutrition incidents rise from 15,473 in 2005 to 29,138 in 2007 but, according to the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA), almost 70,000 “patient incidents” relating to malnutrition and starvation were reported.
If the government insists on spending money on dubious public safety campaigns then at the very least they should be based on a modicum of economic rationality and value for money. In this context, NHS starvation levels are now so high they should surely take precedence over the comparatively limited impact of drink driving.
As such, the time has perhaps come for the government to rethink its 2009 Christmas public health advertising campaign. Instead of focusing on drink driving, it should make clear the grave and widespread dangers of patient malnutrition and starvation in the NHS – not to mention the risk of deadly infection.
Dr Helen Evans is Director of Nurses for Reform.