Friday, August 15, 2008

Picture a man going on a journalism course

The headline said Hospital's £4m cost of Absent Patients. Now I straight away thought: well, its probably not £4m at all; you know they've just counted it up every which way in order to get the figure as high as possible, in order to make this story more interesting. they've probably over-valued, double-counted, rounded-up, everything they can think of to squeeze the figure up into the next million pound bracket, to give the headline more clout on what is, lets face it, a remarkably dull story about people missing appointments. Do you think someone actually thought "oh, i wonder how much money it costs all these missed appointments?" or did they think "what we need is a headline saying all these missed appointments cost loads!" Well, maybe they did, maybe they did just innocently investigate how much it cost, without any agenda at all, as part of a summer audit, and there magically dropped out the figure £4m, just right there into their laps. Well, what are we meant to think? I mean, it could be £500,000 or £2m or £20m and the story is exactly the same: don't miss your appointments people, it costs money! i don't know whether £4m is a lot or a little for missed appointments. I don't know how big the hospital is, how many missed appointments it covers, how much they are over-paying the doctors who are being paid for these missed appointments, i don't know how £4m stacks up with all the rest of the money being pissed away in hospitals, schools, councils, government, anywhere where money gets spent. I mean it sounds like a lot, £4m, its definitely more than i've got to hand, but i can't help wondering how much money we are supposed to spend on missed appointments, and when I think about it closer, £500,000, or £2m sound like too little, or at least there wouldn't be a story if it was that amount, whereas £10m sounds like far too much, a completely implausible figure. So by that reckoning, hospital's £4m cost of absent patients sounds exactly right. Phew!