Tuesday, 8 March 2011

NHS reform: plenty of questions – where are the answers?

Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’

On that basis, my marbles are clearly under threat as tonight I tuned in to the replay of yesterday’s webcast of an interview with Andrew Lansley, UK secretary of state for health, at the British Medical Association. At least my grip on reality has not entirely escaped me as I had the good sense to choose dinner with friends last night rather than tune in to the broadcast live.

Did I really expect the sound bites to be different this time? I must confess I didn’t listen to the full recording as I heard nothing new. As far as I could ascertain, the very first question posed to Lansley ‘what do you think of the reaction to the bill so far? never actually got answered. He immediately launched into the mantra – ‘Patients at the heart of everything we do…nothing about me without me…focus on outcomes…..transfer of responsibility into the hands of front line physicians…… ‘

My concentration started to waiver. And yet, I kept the faith and carried on listening, still hoping for a real explanation of how patients making care decisions can possibly make sense, how outcomes are different from targets and how GPs can carry the burden of an £80 billion budget. The next question, apparently posed by a third of the listeners, was a particularly good one – ‘where is your evidence for going through with this reorganisation?’ I don’t think there was a definitive answer to that either.

So I gave up and watched the football instead. At least you normally get a different result each time you watch a game.

But I fear the men in white coats may well be coming for me soon. Alas tomorrow I am attending the Healthcare Innovation Expo in London and will be there, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to listen to the keynote speaker… Mr Andrew Lansley. And I’ll be hoping for some clarity and specifics.

Will I ever learn?


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