Friday, 22 June 2007

hasta la vista baby

I mentioned Vistadiagnostics previously on this blog. They are a bit of a mysterious company. They don't mention who owns the company or who the reporting radiologists are, except to say they are super special specialist radiologists or some such rubbish to impress the gullible. I adopted the attitude that all is fair in love, war and business and I was prepared to accept it as a compliment that their web designer (who I think is called Joe Lawrence) has copied the tag line (Affordable Accurate Accessible) off my uk-radiology website. He did make one change: he replaced "accurate" with "assured". I suppose he can't really vouch for the accuracy of the radiologists' reports, even if they are super special, so this is a wise move, although it betrays a lack of confidence. Anyway, "assured" sounds good even though it's meaningless.
What is getting me irritated is that he continues to shadow me. It's like being adopted by a mangy stray dog or having a stalker. What he must do is google uk-radiology and find out if the website is mentioned on a forum or chat room and then spams the forum with adverts for his company. This is really below contempt so I have done something similar to him.
I find he is getting links to his site by posting thinly veiled adverts on various article sites like amazines so I did one of my own. I don't know whether it will be accepted - it should be looking at all the rubbish on this site but I reproduce it below. I think I might have gone a bit far with this. I don't think Vistadiagnostics will be offering me any work.

When New Labour, the ruling political party in the UK, pledged to save the N.H.S. - the state-funded national health service, it invested a huge amount of taxpayers' money with little visible gain.

In an effort to reduce staff costs, which accounts for 70% of N.H.S. spending, untried systems were introduced into the area of diagnostics with some interesting unintended consequences.

A vast amount of extra imaging capacity has been purchased from privately owned providers who have been guaranteed profits and set-up costs but forbidden from employing N.H.S. staff. Dumbing down in radiology has resulted in many tasks previously undertaken by radiologists in the UK, such as ultrasound and film reporting, being done by radiographers and, at the same time, much larger numbers of radiologists are coming off the expanded training schemes and are unable to find work because hospital departments have frozen recruitment, partially to balance the books as required by the Secretary of State for Health (Patricia Hewitt at time of writing), and partially to see what effect the new providers would have on hospital radiology departments.

As costs of medical equipment have decreased and radiology reporting costs have plummeted, entrepreneurs have entered the private health-care market and set up patients-for-profit orientated companies. They have particularly promoted private MRI scanning, which is often advertised as a method of screening for cancer by the less scrupulous private companies. Since the method uses no radiation, regulation is lax and scans are widely advertised for dubious medical indications particularly to the wealthy worried well.

An example of this new breed of "health care-for-profit" providers is Vista Diagnostics who have installed a scanner in a London railway station and carry out scans seven days a week for the price of a meal for two in a fashionable restaurant.

A group of Consultant Radiologists working for the N.H.S. in Hereford, a small city on the England-Wales border, have shown that it is possible provide an ethical, high quality, low cost private service while benefiting the local N.H.S. patients. The partners have set up the Hereford Radiology Group and take private referrals from throughout the UK. They have a full range of diagnostic equipment available so are able to carry out CT scanning, ultrasound, isotope scans, plain X-ray and MRI - unlike most other private providers who can only offer a single modality. The consultants are also happy to discuss the most appropriate investigations for a particular problem and, because they are able put ethics before profit, may advise that imaging is not appropriate. In return for use of N.H.S. equipment the consultants share income with the N.H.S. hospital. This income is being used to provide extra N.H.S. scanning on Saturdays and they are now advertising for staff to provide a new N.H.S. scanning service in the evenings.

This is a win-win response to the changes in UK radiology. Private patients benefit from ethical and unbiased expert advice and the lowest scan prices in the UK. N.H.S. patients benefit from increased scan provision and the local X-ray department benefits from a secure future. There are losers of course. The entrepreneurs who see an opportunity for profits out of patients' health worries and illnesses will have to look elsewhere. I, for one, could live with that.

Hereford Radiology Group can be contacted on their website at:

UK lowest cost private scans

I'm particularly proud of "patients-for-profit .... companies" and "health care-for-profit providers". It has a good ring to it and fits in with the not-for-profit description of some companies wishing to make virtue out of incompetence like the nationalized railways.

1 comment:

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