So the NHS celebrates her 63rd birthday today. She’s a little battle weary and ragged round the edges, but as every aging film star will tell you – 60 is the new 40 and she’s a game old bird with plenty of life left in her – we hope. She’s a bit old-fashioned in some of her ways, but has embraced technology in many areas and has been a key driver and pioneer in medical research and treatment innovation. She’s got a good heart and has been doing her best, coping with diverse masters. If only I could – these would be my gifts for the state funded health system.
Clarity: However the reforms pan out, as the listening, tweaking, and reviewing continues, I wish for a clear instruction and guidance from the Health and Social Care Bill. I would wish for ‘Limbo land’ to be brought to an end and a clear picture of how the NHS will operate to emerge. Soon.
Rejuvenation: So much about the NHS is tired, the buildings, the people, clinical staff, managers, support workers. There are significant new, well equipped facilities to be celebrated, but dilapidated and shabby amenities, including community centres and hospitals remain. This isn’t just about money or resources. It’s about taking care of your workplace and your colleagues.
A communications trainer for every facility: Now wouldn’t that be great! Administrators could be taught how to relate to their peers, nurses to doctors, doctors to patients, Chief Execs to commissioning boards, hospitals to their community, carers to relatives. The list is endless. The key to the utopic vision of integrated pathways is communication.
Tolerance: I believe that one of the most damaging impacts of the NHS Reform plans so far is the divisive effect in creating conflict between clinical peer groups. GPs and Hospital Consultants feel they have to compete for funds and the potential shift of power is uncomfortable for many. A variety of stakeholders feel sidelined and undervalued. As resources are stretched, tolerance levels between colleagues and even tolerance for patients is tested. A little tolerance for the private sector wouldn’t go amiss either. Competition is here to stay, better to embrace it, and use quality assured external providers wisely, to reduce costs and mange capacity issues.
Innovation: One of my biggest fears is that the reforms may undermine the opportunity to innovate. Ground breaking treatments, innovative regimes and new techniques are better to be tested in the NHS than anywhere else. A precious birthday gift indeed.
Performance Management: Not much of a gift some would say. But we cannot escape the fact that a public sector job is not a sacred cow. Poor management, sloppy clinical practice, or substandard work should be properly addressed.
I wish the NHS a long and healthy life and many happy returns!