Unhealthy outlook

It is not really surprising that the NHS is preparing to invest more in medical technology.

It is not really surprising that the NHS is preparing to invest more in medical technology.

As The Engineer( Focus and Comment, 11 March) and others have pointed out for some time, this is one of the only routes to meeting the massive problems we face with looking after the elderly when more people are in their 80s and 90s.

The big issue will be managing the expectancy of patients once this wondrous new technology begins to appear, as in this respect the situation will be similar to today’s debate over drugs.

If a new drug is developed that can help arthritis then the natural reaction is to say ‘hang the cost’ and expect it to be on the NHS. But as anyone working in the NHS knows, it is all about priorities.

The same is true with technology. If there is a new device — provided enough were bought — costing £500 that could help 30,000 long-term disabled or one £30,000 piece of technology that could help 300 critically ill, and the budget says you can have one but not the other, how do you choose?

I expect that in the future we will see people casting envious glances at the ‘hi-tech’ hospital in the next-door health authority without realising what more mundane services that hospital has had to do without in order to afford its state-of-the-art facilities.

N Cole