Saturday, 9 April 2011

How do you solve a problem like Andrew Lansley?

A leader has a problem when the person they appoint to solve an issue becomes the issue themselves. And hereby lies David Cameron’s dilemma

Cut to a vision of the Prime Minister and Deputy PM in their nun’s habits, in the abbey, singing to the tune from The Sound of Music…

How do you solve a problem like Andrew Lansley
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How to you find a word that stands for Lansley?
A will o the wisp?
A flibbertijibbet?
A clown?
Many a thing you know you’d like to tell him
Many a thing he ought to understand
But how do you make him stay?
And listen to all you say?
How do you keep a wave upon the sand?
Oh, how do you solve a problem like Andrew Lansley?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand…..

Meanwhile, Lansley is skipping over the metaphorical mountains, perhaps not so happily now, catching the moonbeams of GP commissioning, patient choice and private sector cherry picking.

Theodore Roosevelt said ‘The best executive is one who has sense to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it’

Cameron has demonstrated the right leadership qualities by trusting his Secretary of State for Health to do a good job. But he made a fundamental error by not sense checking the proposals for NHS reform. And now every debate starts with the criticism that Andrew Lansley doesn’t listen, before addressing the issues themselves.

The ‘pause, listen, reflect and improve’ exercise is going to be time consuming and politically very costly for Cameron as he commits to rethink some of the reforms. So what should he do?

Sir Alex Ferguson, Manager of Manchester United football team is arguably one of the great leaders of a generation.  Love him or hate him, he has achieved consistently excellent results in a highly competitive marketplace while building team after team, mainly committed to the greater good. He justified his controversial decision to sell David Beckham at the peak of the iconic star’s abilities by arguing that no one player was greater than the club. So he had to go.

No one can question Lansley’s good intentions, but very few who really understand the health system can support his radical reforms. He still hasn’t been able to explain how his restructure will actually improve patient care and save costs.

Back to Roosevelt’s quote – maybe Cameron did pick ‘a good person’ for his health Secretary, but Lansley hasn’t done a good job with the NHS restruture. And now his profile, for all the wrong reasons is bigger than the Health and Social Care Bill itself.

Lansley has already been sidelined by the NHS reform roadshow launched by his superiors this week. But how far will Cameron go to repair the tatters of this political hot potato?

I would normally say I’m not a betting person, but have just placed my first online bet for The Grand National. I don’t fancy the odds of Lansley still being in post this time next year.


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