Monday, 19 September 2011

The NHS is too precious to be a political pawn.

A vote at the Liberal Democrats conference this weekend failed to reach the threshold to allow further debate the Health and Social Care Bill. 235 delegates voted for an emergency debate on the NHS shake-up but 183 were not in favour of regurgitating old arguments. I have sympathy for both sets of voters. As so many commentators, (some far more eloquent and influential than moi) continue to state – Andrew Lansley’s NHS Reform bill is badly thought out and poorly explained and promoted. But again as I, and many more have stated – enough already.

Like a lover who has been dumped – how many times can you go back to he/she who has rejected you and beg for a second, third or fourth chance? Some dignity please!

Like it or not - this Bill has now passed through the House of Commons. That ship has sailed. The debate in the House of Lords will be interesting but even if the Bill faces some more serious hiccups – the momentum for these changes is already underway. The NHS continues to feel like a ping pong ball, having an uncomfortable ride as it is bashed back and forth across the political table.

Speaking to a senior NHS manager the other day – I heard the most sensible suggestion for a way forward. He felt that the Bill should be allowed to go through as it is – too much time has been wasted already – and NHS executives should just run their region adopting their own interpretation of the Bill. As long as high quality local services are provided in a cost effective way,and Monitor or any other regulatory body is happy with outcomes – then does the political finite detail matter? A tempting concept.

Maybe I am a little na├»ve – but I have a simple plea to all ‘stakeholders’ (a favourite NHS word). It really is time to leave politics out of this – let’s just get on with keeping the best of the NHS and easing out the worst at the frontline - the corridors of hospitals and care centres – not the corridors of political power.

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