As a GP and entrepreneur, with my own software being used in the NHS, I have found that my opinion has continually changed with regards to businesses in the NHS.
I used to think as a junior doctor that a lot of the private companies dealing with the NHS were evil for two main reasons: overcharging the NHS for their services and the unethical use of patient data.
I think these two points are still valid for certain companies. If you read some of the reviews of some of the NHS software suppliers then it’s patently obvious that certain organisations like TPP who provide the electronic health records for around 30% of NHS GP practices have stonewalled themselves from criticism. Their software is also very dated and horrible to use as a result.
But, there are some great things about private enterprise. One of the greatest differences between government ran organisations and private enterprises is accountability.
We live in an age where when there is outrage at a private company, real change can happen. Just look at how the CEO of a multibillion dollar company was recently ousted for unethical behaviour.
I think that the world is changing. People and consumers have a voice now, because of the Internet and how connected we are. We can raise our concerns when we’re not happy and take our business elsewhere, or in my case start a business which is more ethically sound (I hope! :p ).
I feel that this is quite different from government organisations. As private businesses become more transparent and ethical due to consumer pressures, large government organisations are appearing more and more opaque as time passes by. Due to the lack of market place pressures they are also very inefficient and lack the focus that private enterprises need just to survive – but this is the subject of another blog post! 🙂