Wednesday, 18 May 2011

NHS Future Forum ‘engaging and listening’ seminar

I attended a seminar in Westminster today, part of the ‘pause and reflect’ stage of the Health and Social Care Bill. The speakers (and in theory, listeners) represented an impressive line-up including:

Baroness Young: Chief Executive of Diabetes UK
The Rt Hon. Stephen Dorrell MP: Chair of the Health Select Committee
Liz Kendall: Shadow Health Minister
Niall Dickson: Chief Executive of the General Medical Council (GMC)
Dr Michael Dixon: Chair, NHS Alliance

The event was a full morning of presentations interspersed with comments and questions from the floor.

Frustrated but fascinated, confused and concerned, enlightened and encouraged. This is the usual mix of emotions that I experience every time I confront the enigma that is the Health and Social Care Bill and today was no exception. Two main strands of thought permeated my consciousness throughout. Firstly – is anyone who counts REALLY listening? Secondly this is so much material for my blog …

So where do I start? I think an overview of the event is called for, and as I am acutely aware of the average attention span of any reader, I shall write in more detail about the speakers in my next posting.

I have a confession – I now have a girl-crush on Baroness Young. She is beautiful, smart, chic, authoritative, knowledgeable, even-handed and serene. In fact, everything I hope to be when I finally grow up! Baroness Young provided the independent, firm chairmanship that is so essential to a successful event.

Most of the speakers were eloquent, focussed and didn’t over-run. The audience was a stimulating mix of professions with varying degrees of vested interest.  The questions and comments were, in the main, sensible and constructive. My favourite session was a brief Q and A with Niall Dickson (GMC) and Michael Dixon (NHS Alliance). Michael is massively in favour of GP Commissioning and leads a pathfinder GP practice. He was in my opinion (I must be careful not to upset my lawyers) positively salivating at the prospect of complete control of a big chunk of the NHS budget. I found his talk of a café in his practice, his views on specialist representation and his apparent lack of empathy with secondary care quite worrying. I do agree with him that there should be complete transparency in all consortia dealings.

Niall Dickson (GMC) on the other hand, filled me with hope, focussing on ethical issues (including conflicts of interest) safety, quality and education. Hear hear!

Which brings me nicely to the ‘listening’ bit. Stephen Dorrell spoke a lot of sense, and mentioned that the committee only have a few more days to produce their report. But he left immediately after his presentation and a brief Q and A, so was only in attendance for one fifth of the morning. Niall Dickson and Liz Kendall also left early. 

I certainly enjoyed the seminar but was anything achieved? There was plenty of talk, not much listening and probably nothing actually being heard. 

Plus ca change.


Post a Comment