FIrst, I would be hugely frustrated by the pre-ponderance of negative press! Obviously in an organization the size of the NHS there are going to be problems but there are also a lot of great people doing great things. The real issue, in my opinion is that the NHS is a system where demand driven by an aging and fatter population is far out stripping any increases in funding in a time of government austerity.
So what can be done? The same thing that private enterprise has had to do to stay competitive. Cut down the costs associated with non-value added processes in favor of those that deliver value to the customer, or in this case, the patient. I am sure the NHS is working on this, and I have no doubt how difficult this is to achieve in such a large organization, but as a patient I can not help but see opportunities.
An example that comes to mind is the appointments scheduling process. Why is there no web based system for this process?. The UK has 89% of its homes connected to the Internet. Use snail mail for the 12% that do not (plus some % of Luddites) and you can cover the vast majority of the population with an Internet solution that would be a) easier for the patient, b) cheaper to administer for the NHS, and c) could dramatically reduce cancellations and their costs by having a confirmation loop in the process.
This is one example and it came to mind as I wait for an email response to a question that I posted to the NHS appointments scheduling service. Two days later and no response so I will be forced to call. Efficient use of email alone will save time over handling phone calls but the worst case is to have to handle both due to response times on an email not meeting their own service level!
As I said, one example, but where there is one there are bound to be more. Reduce the number of back office staff handling appointments and increase the number of nurses and doctors. Alternatively use some savings to attack the next opportunity creating a self funding improvement program.