Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Drip-feeding victories?

It’s a familiar scene from any medical drama – ER, Casualty, Grays Anatomy. The earnest young (and usually very handsome) doctor says in a grave tone to the loved ones - ‘The next 24 hours are critical’ followed an episode later by a wide smile and ‘the patient has turned the corner – he should be fine now’

Are we at that stage with the NHS Reforms, I wonder? Have we turned a corner? Andrew Lansley (remember him – the Secretary of State for Health) announced a few days ago that Cancer Networks have received a stay of execution beyond 2013, a u-turn from his previous plans for this specialist service. The networks are seen by many as crucial in maintaining the highest standards of cancer care regionally, in addition to ensuring that primary and secondary care stays up to date in this fast moving branch of medicine.

One of the major fears voiced by critics of the Health and Social Care Bill is that expertise may be lost from the commissioning process, and service improvements could become the first casualty of ill-informed commissioning boards. So any change of direction that acknowledges the need and value of this expertise is welcome.

Oprah Winfrey once said – The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance - and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning’

Are the little victories beginning to add up? Subtle but significant diversions from the original path?

Wounded from the recent Lib Dems local election defeats Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister may be the source of many little victories to come, starting with his insistence that hospital doctors and nurses should be included in GP commissioning boards.

Those of us who hope for a major turn-around in many of the aspects of these reforms don’t mind whether the motivation is political, pragmatic. ethical or clinical. We don’t mind if the victories are little, and announced quietly.

Just as long as they keep coming.


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