I've spent a fair amount of time in recent weeks at the sharp end of the NHS, with two near relatives on the receiving end of investigations and procedures in acute trusts. There have been day surgery experiences, as well as in - patient spells, community treatment with GP involvement, district nurses, pharmacy, and conversations with the behind-the-scenes staff who make it all happen.
What on earth is the common factor that would reduce spend, you ask?
My observation is that when you have an investigation as an out patient, it seems normal practice to offer a cup of tea and a biscuit afterwards as you recover. Biscuits don't come singly from a tin (risk of infection!) but in neat little packets of three. Our canteen sells these for about 40p a packet.
If you are an in patient, the refreshment trolley comes round several times a day, and there is a similar offering - cup of tea (or coffee) and a packet of biscuits.
Day surgery? Recovery will include a cup of tea and biscuits.
Donating blood? cup of tea and biscuits.
I can quite see the rationale behind all of this. But I'm thinking about the cost, and how it could be reduced. In patients could surely bring in their own biscuits? And with the NHS buying power, the potential for reducing spend on this one inconsequential item could save millions.
There's my challenge - millions of cups of tea and packets of biscuits being dispensed up and down the country - how much could be saved? Is it time to call on the British public to do their bit - bring your own biscuits!