Sunday, 20 February 2011

Opposition to NHS reform – proceed with caution

‘It’s 100 times harder to create something good than critique something bad’

The tweet above, posted by a psychologist, (@bjfogg) should serve as a pertinent warning to all of us who are slating Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care bill.

It is very easy to criticise this piece of legislation. In my opinion, and many others within the healthcare profession, this is a poorly structured, flawed and frankly idiotic dismantling of many of the good elements of our National Health Service. I am genuinely concerned that the infrastructure of the Nation’s largest employer is creaking at the seams and may actually fall apart. But how do we rescue the situation?

Primary Care Trusts are already making huge rafts of employees redundant. Hospitals Trusts are suffering budget shortfalls as even though they have delivered the required level of service, the PCT’s have not been able to honour their financial agreements.

I have spent the last few months morphing from an apolitical observer to an impassioned opponent to the planned NHS reforms. I have posted blogs with questions for the government, used ‘acerbic wit’ about GPs’ superpowers and bemoaned the lack of appreciation for the amazing achievements in many Hospitals. But have I come up with any solutions? I have a few ideas but haven’t written about them yet. Me and a million others.

There is a massive ‘Save the NHS’ demonstration planned for March 26th in London. Charities, medical and care associations and professional bodies have written open letters to the Times, criticising the government plans and voicing concern at the speed of the reorganisation. And now the London arm of the British Medical Association has voted in favour of a motion calling for the BMA to scrap its policy of ‘critical engagement’ and replace this with a ‘policy of total opposition’ to the Bill.

We must be realistic. There should be cuts, as in other areas within the public sector. Jobs will go and efficiencies must be made. But as I, and many wiser and more influential commentators have said, the ‘savings’ are not logical so far. Many of those receiving generous redundancy payments now will probably soon be re-employed to help the GP consortia administer the commissioning process. So where is the efficiency in that?

Enough of the negativity. Go ahead and protest on 26th March. Write to the Times, post your blogs. But now is the time for the thought leaders, the BMA, the Royal College of Nursing and many others to tell Andrew Lansley how he can rescue the NHS, how he can keep the good bits of the Bill, tweak the not so good bits and lose the rubbish bits altogether.

It doesn’t have to be a complete U turn. Maybe just a bit of a change in direction, re-set the sat nav and find a better, and more considered route to achieve the Holy Grail of an effective, efficient and sustainable National Health Service.

Time to apply some tried and tested ‘project rescue’ principles, Mr Lansley – get yourself a great Project Director, set up some dedicated ‘workstreams’ and plan a sensible way forward.

Any volunteers?


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