Monthly Archives: February 2015

Fixing the NHS – some thoughts based on my experience of the German Healthcare system

At the Chemist!This is a very different topic to the ones I normally post! But a recent Facebook discussion on the ills of the NHS in the UK have been apparent to me for many years now – my recent move to Germany highlights the way that you can get great healthcare,

One of the biggest complaints I see in the press today is about NHS funding – and for me, that’s where the problem lies. I see so many comments like “the government isn’t putting enough funding in place” but let’s remember, it’s not the government that funds the NHS, it is you, the taxpayer! So when you say the state isn’t paying enough, what you are really saying is “I am not paying enough!”.

And that is where the German system is so much better! Funding for healthcare is all done through the various “Krankenkasse” – an insured scheme whereby the funding for healthcare is isolated from your general taxation. And yes, I have to pay a lot for it – but isn’t that the best way to ensure that the service I receive is top class? None of my payments to healthcare get diverted to fund illegal wars & there is no variation from one county or country to another if I need specific drugs. Pensions and long term care are also separately funded and unlike the UK’s National Insurance Scheme, there is no shortfall between funds coming in and payments going out.

The quality and speed of getting access to medical help is vastly different to the UK – here’s a comparison based on my own experience here: (for those that don;t know me, I have had a long association with nasal polyps!)

NHS- Make appointment to see GP, undergo treatment based on his general experience, eventually, get a referral to a Consultant and wait 6-9 weeks to see him. If X-rays or CT scan needed prior to that, make an appointment separately to get that done.  Any prescription charged at £8.05 per item

NHS + Private Medical Insurance – Make an appointment to see GP, ask for the referral straight away, get an appointment within a couple of weeks. X-ray equipment on site, CT Scan wait was just 1 week.Any prescription costs are at cost price of the drug – for many items, this may be lower than the NHS prescription charge. if not, a smart Consultant will write you up for enough for a few days and refer you back to your GP where you can then have further prescriptions at £8.05 per item.

Germany – without an appointment or referral, go direct to an ENT specialist and simply present your health insurance card. I had to wait just 30 minutes to see a Consultant who had all of the specialist equipment on site. Prescription charge (which does depend on which insurer you are with) just €5 regardless of how many items.

As you can see, a superior experience than I ever had in the UK even with BUPA cover in place!

Of course, many will ask “What about the unemployed and low income families”? Premiums for the Krankenkasse are based on income and if you choose one of the State approved schemes (there are 2), the premiums are also regulated by the State. If you are unemployed, you will be covered for your healthcare under the separate payment you have to make towards Unemployment Benefit.

So in summary, healthcare funding is ring-fenced to ensure a properly funded healthcare system. And in my opinion, that is exactly what is needed in the UK to get the NHS back on track. National Insurance payments need to be also ring-fenced and at a level that can sustain the service we all want to receive. That will mean people earning more pay more – I’m not a Labour supporter but even they ought to approve of that!

The NHS funding problems cannot be fixed without a radical overhaul of the National Insurance scheme with a focus on employer/employee contributions being at a level where a proper service can be delivered. If we really want a world class healthcare system in the UK, it is we, the taxpayers (and yes, I am currently still paying some UK tax!) who have to accept that we have a part to play in this through more realistic contributions into a a scheme where we can be sure that our payments all go towards healthcare.

Reflections on Learning Technologies 2015

It was a real honour when Don Taylor asked me to chair 2 sessions at Learning Technologies this year. This is THE go to conference for me and is fast becoming the annual meeting of my PLN (Personal Learning Network)!

When I first started out in the world of Learning Technology, I was fortune to be introduced to a number of people who have helped to shape my thinking in the early years and I was delighted that one of my sessions included one of these people – David Wilson. Being a part of David’s Corporate Research Network over the years has enabled me to get to know so many of the leading figures in the LMS world and it was great to see so many of them at the Conference. Sadly, my duties clashed with some other good sessions but thanks to a great backchannel, managed by the lovely Kate Graham, I was still able to pick up on the key points. Another great resource is from David Kelly who has curated a huge amount of resources that were shared during the sessions – check it out here!

My thanks also to my LMS panel speakers – Stuart Bennett, Stephen Macdonald and Randall Roberts. With a focus on Learning Management Systems, these 2 sessions proved that the LMS is alive and kicking – reports of the demise of the LMS are way off the mark! If you missed the 2 David’s session, you can download their updated 9 Grid analysis here.

For me, this conference is as much about the conversations that happen outside of the seminar rooms as it is the conference content. One such conversation with Donald Clark and Nick Shackleton-Jones  on the topic of Adaptive Learning led to my joining Don’s session to add my perspective from an organisation that is using Adaptive learning right now, Watch our for more on this hopefully at the learning & Skills Group event later this year when I am hoping to team up once again with Don on this topic. Don is also someone from whom I have learned so much over the years and once again, an honour to be asked to join him on stage.

My time on the exhibition floor was mainly spent chatting to old friends – it was good to see many of my former colleagues on the Kineo stand and to see that the company is going from strength to strength since becoming part of City & Guilds. The exhibition floor was packed – for me though, nothing stood out enough to warrant any in depth conversations with new vendors. But I put that down to the fact that I work in a highly innovative organisation that is already exploring the newer technologies such as Adaptive Learning. For a more comprehensive view on the exhibition, Craig Weiss will be posing his review shortly – worth checking out when he does.

Finally, having recently shed my “Ned Flanders” look, a lot of people had to look twice before realising it was me! So, if you think you might have seen me there but weren’t sure, you probably did!

I’ll leave you with one of the best quotes of the event from David Perring: “Learning is the engine room of Talent”. See you all at the next one!