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Merger plan will save NHS and earn Clubcard points


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Friday, 9 March 2012

Merger plan will save NHS and earn Clubcard points

The NHS and supermarket giant Besco are to merge, creating Europe’s biggest provider of healthcare, groceries and tobacco products.

Industry watchers say the move could solve the financial problems of the NHS and keep government promises of increased competition and choice at a stroke. 

Philip Lucre of investment bank Barkings, which brokered the deal, called it “the ultimate example of synergy between the public and private sectors”. 

“The NHS has a fantastic brand but has not been financially viable since about 1948. It is inefficient, makes poor use of assets and is out of touch with the needs of its customers,” Lucre said.

A Besco spokesperson said the company would bring its experience in high volume, low margin retailing to bear on the NHS, promising a “stack ‘em high, heal ‘em cheap approach to healthcare which would soon have NHS tills ringing up a healthy profit”.

Lucre said: “The old NHS business model relied on customers getting sick and just turning up when they felt like it, or being bussed in by ambulance at the NHS’s expense. There was no effective marketing and no attempt to up-sell the customer once they were in store. You had the ridiculous situation where someone would come to hospital, stay for days at a time without buying anything at all, and die or go home leaving the local trust to foot the bill. No wonder the NHS was losing money.”

Besco argues that customers already visiting its stores to buy groceries, clothes and cheap electrical goods could also be sold a range of health services from varicose vein stripping and mole removal to major organ transplants. 

Junior minister for health Neil Pickle acknowledged that in future all health service commissioning decisions would be taken by store managers. “But rest assured, there will be effective governance arrangements and full clinical input,” he said. 

Pickle dismissed allegations of NHS privatisation as “scaremongering”. 

 “The government has always said it wants to increase the choice of services available to patients,” he said.

“Co-locating healthcare with supermarkets not only makes services more convenient for hardworking ordinary people, it means huge savings in premises and staff costs – savings that can be invested to help struggling and hard to reach sectors such as banking.”

Analysts say Besco’s retail experience will help it develop healthcare products to suit all budgets. “The NHS tried in vain to give everyone the same product, regardless of their ability to pay, but today’s retail business is all about market segmentation,” said Susan Barcode, retail analyst at Barkings. 

Besco is expected to offer a Value range of procedures alongside an upmarket Finest range. 

“Obviously, if you opt for a low-end operation, you might expect less in the way of infection control, fully qualified consultants and nursing, but customers will be clear what they’re getting,” said the spokesman, adding that different packages of care would be clearly marked with a traffic light system to indicate the patient’s chances of recovery.

Regular customers will earn Clubcard points to be redeemed as money off fuel or minor surgery purchases. 

 “With only a small amount of extra training, staff already offering to pack customers’ bags can now offer to change them. Every little helps,” Besco said. 

Rosemary.Carney@barnet.nhs.uk says:
Mar 09, 2012 11:27 AM
Brilliant! I don't know whether to laugh or cry!
janetcobb says:
Mar 09, 2012 12:47 PM
Too near the truth!
colin_e says:
Mar 09, 2012 12:47 PM
I'm already a fan of the new editors Blog, but this one definately hits the spot.

Like a good doctor with a needle, the deftness of delivery disguises the sharpness of the point ;-)

I've described something like this nightmare scenario to family, friends, and even a GP or two myself, but not this wittily i'm afraid.

The Blog is rapidly becoming one of my favourite reads. Thanks for adding a little light to these dark days.
tony@getbetterskills.co.uk says:
Mar 09, 2012 12:57 PM
Absolutely brilliant!Should get this blog out to the widest audience possible. I agree with others would be really funny if it wasn't so close to the truth!
philton says:
Mar 09, 2012 01:01 PM
I have the distinct feeling that future generations will study your blogger alongside Milton or Shakespeare, or Nostradamus ... Brilliant.
shodkin says:
Mar 09, 2012 01:09 PM
But deinitely Terry Pratchett level humour.
will.sopwith@wirral.nhs.uk says:
Mar 09, 2012 01:09 PM
i understand now why the NHS has so failed in its business model. Obvious really
dap says:
Mar 09, 2012 01:14 PM
Amusing but scary as it is far too close to the truth
rosemary.simmonds@bristol.ac.uk says:
Mar 09, 2012 01:29 PM
....yes and patient records would be available at the swipe of a customer loyalty card! It's all so hip-op!
phil.mackie@nhs.net says:
Mar 09, 2012 01:33 PM
One cannot but feel there are missed opportunities here for even closer synergies.

Given the large network of convenience stores, co-location of the majority of primary care services within the Bestco-by-You brand wil provide local people with the quality and level of service they need to have their blood pressure monitored whilst picking up that extra pint of milk which was forgot from the weekly shop at the Bestco Behemoth. Out of hours services are also likely to be revolutionised by making walk-in-centres available until nearly midnight in a state-of-the-art consumer environment that can supply Dregg's pasties and Costly coffees to patient's whilst they wait for the cashier to complete the triage process.

However, rumours that the Bestco2ME vans will be allowed to use their newly-fitted "blue light" facility to deliver emergency supplies of taramasalta remain unconfirmed at this time.
phil.mackie@nhs.net says:
Mar 09, 2012 01:46 PM
Can I apologise unreservedly for the errors which crept into my last post?

"Forgot" instead of "forgotten" is almost forgivable; but the cat-apostrophe is not.

Fortunately, my colleagues at Barking's Media Bandwagon have assured me that such failures will not reflect badly on my attention to detail as the message is all that matters....
rdeacon@nhs.net says:
Mar 09, 2012 03:22 PM
One wonders how one becomes one of the 'Finest' selection. I would also like to be stamped with a barcode across my forehead.....
s.cribb@nhs.net says:
Mar 09, 2012 05:04 PM
“With only a small amount of extra training, staff already offering to pack customers’ bags can now offer to change them. Every little helps,” Besco said.

Simply brilliant!

Can't tell you how much I look forward to the Friday blog!
christianfluet@btinternet.com says:
Mar 10, 2012 05:45 PM
The only way to get out if the NHS debt is to run it like a supermarket.'Finest' for those who can afford it, 'Basics' for the ordinary people, 'Reduced' or 'Passed Date' for the low earners. About time the NHS made some profits. I can't wait to buy my 'SHARE'of the NHS.
vivienne.martindale@champs.nhs.uk says:
Mar 12, 2012 11:12 AM
This is brilliant - cheered up my Monday morning which is already going from bad to worse!!