Tuesday, 15 March 2011

NHS reform - bursting a political football !

The debate continues and will continue, regardless of the decision that comes out of this current round of political football. AT some point in the future, another party, another leader or another Health Secretary will take over and the direction will change again. This is wrong!

It is unfair to our NHS, it is unfair to the employees of our NHS and it is unfair to the patients i.e. me and you!

How can any system operate when their objectives and targets (yes we all need something to aim for) can change from day to day and week to week. The only reason the service is still operational is because there are enough people who have been willing to stand up and defend the idea of free health care for all.

For me, the NHS is too important to leave to the politicians to run. For them, it is a party issue, one wants more privatisation, one wants more targets and investment and the other wants what ever they need to agree with to be in power. This system of management will not provide us with the best Health Care system in the world and that is the one target that all major parties can agree on.

There is no point in going to other countries to see how they do it and then trying to apply the system here. Grow some balls and make a decision for the country you represent while you still have the chance. If there was one health care system that worked perfectly and could easily translate between countries, then everyone would be doing it and there would be no issue.

The point is that we need an NHS that serves the people of this country and it cannot do that while it remains a political football and until it actually asks the people of this country what it wants the NHS to be.

So here is my proposal. We make the NHS independent of government in the same way as the Bank of England is. The NHS is far more important for more people than the BoE so it should be treated as more important. The national NHS would be run by a body of professionals, experts and members of the public who would be tasked with ensuring that the wishes of the people of the UK are met.  There would need to be a national consultation where everyone has a chance to have an input into the targets and aspirations of the NHS, which would then become a 5, 10 and 20 year plan. Local NHS boards would be selected and run in a similar manner with the aim of delivering the national and local targets.

The thing to remember is that what works in one area of the country might not be right for another and the adaptability and flexibility to make local decisions is vital to make any organisation a success.

There would obviously be more complexities to be dealt with an ironed out, but they could be dealt with in the knowledge that 'This is what the people want' and any solutions would always have that in mind.

We can mess around with structures and delivery mechanisms as much as we want and for as long as we want, but if we genuinely want an NHS that delivers what the people want, how they want it and when they want it, we need to take politicians away from it and give it the respect that it deserves.

I am about to have a back operation in a private hospital, because I have the option to (through my job). I have used the NHS for many years and think the people that work within it do an amazing job and I would like to think that when my kids grow up and they may face the decision of whether to go private or NHS, they have a bit more to think about than I did.

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