15 August 2013

Hospital's Google Map - more support for David Boyle's 450 bus theory

The ever excellent David Boyle has recently been ruminating on the nature of public service and the general uselessness of particularly the Labour Party in overseeing their provision.

His '450 bus theory' - named after a friendly local bus service in the Cyrstal Palace area of south east London is about how human scale is missing from many public services leaving the users disempowered and at the mercy of bureaucratic indifference.

Well what to make of St George's Hospital in Tooting who have launched a version of Google Maps for their patients and visitors?  Sounds very sensible and helpful you might think in helping their patients to get to their appointments on time.  But the version of Google Maps is for the internal layout of the hospital which has grown so vast in recent years that patients are frequently getting lost inside the buildings rather than on their way.

I have some personal experience of St George's and it is an enormous, souless, impersonal and depressing place even if its staff are extremely expert in their medical specialisms.  And I wouldn't wish an illness sufficently serious for anyone to end up there because of this.

The current round of NHS service centralisations will lead to more St George's - as would Labour's idea of nationalising social care.  It's why we continue to pour billions into the NHS but never see the true value of this investment. 

David Boyle is right - smaller and more personal services are the way forward - but who in government (and especially the Lib Dems) is going to have the courage to take his argument forward? 

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