By NHS activist Liz Charles.
Consultations by `phone and `industrial surgery` are key according to Monitor, the new “independent” watchdog set up under the Health and Social Care Bill.
Copying ideas from poorer countries such as India and Ghana is key to saving the NHS, a watchdog says.
Adopting `industrial engineering` techniques such as those used to carry out cataract surgery in Aravind, |India, could save £1.1billion a year, Monitor claims.
Another £800 million could be recouped if Britain copies Mexico, where two-thirds of patients sort out their problems in a phone call to a nurse.
Also highlighted was a scheme in Ghana where patients send mobile phone pictures of their wounds for a doctor `at a different location` to assess.
But shadow health minister Andy Burnham said “This will send a shiver down many a spine. It confirms the suspicion many people have that David Cameron is softening up the NHS for privatisation.”
Monitor claims the health sector faces its `greatest financial challenge in recent times` in the next eight years.
Britain spends £2,264 a year per person on health compared with £37 in India. £47 in Ghana and £389 in Mexico.
However it has one of the longest life expectancies in the world, whereas it is below 65 in India and Ghana.
Monitor warns the NHS is facing a £30 billion shortfall unless it copies poorer countries.
It also recommends stopping at least 30 procedures, including removing tonsils, which have little medical benefit or are for cosmetic purposes.
Other proposals include getting patients to better manage their own health and increasing the number of people seen in the community rather than by hospital consultants.
Monitor chairman, David Bennett, said the NHS would have to `strain every sinew` to tackle the crisis.
He added, `While there are things the sector can do – like be more efficient in its procurement or introducing new ways of working – what is required is a step-change`.