Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The NHS - new term, new headmaster, same curriculum.

I’m sure that the coalition government has been exceptionally grateful to the Queen, our Olympians, our Paralympians and even US Open tennis champion Andy Murray for a wonderful summer of distraction – helping us to overlook the tricky issues facing the UK.

Well kiddoes – the summer holiday jollies are over and the new term has started. Back to the serious business of the economy, and more specifically for me and my readers – health. This time last year I posted a blog entitled ‘new term, new habits’ and made a request for all those involved with healthcare delivery to do the following: be nice, respect each other’s profession, acknowledge that others don’t know what you know, stop using jargon, make your meetings count, take pride in your environment and think integrated. It was a worthy wish list and when you think about it – all of the above was applied with incredible success to make our Olympic and Paralympic dream a reality.

But speaking of reality - as the children go back to school and we drag our eyes from the TV screen back to our p.c.s - what is in store?

NHS Reform is still happening and it’s no good pretending it’s not real. The new term brings  not only the same day to day challenges of delivering cost effective safe care,  but the NHS must start to get used some of the major changes. Yes – we have a different headmaster, but the curriculum is the same.

I see the only major significance of a new Secretary of State for Health is that now it will be Jeremy Hunt and not Andrew Lansley to face the barrage from the public sector unions and medical professionals as they continue to make their feelings clear.  

So – what I am hoping for this term? I hope that everyone involved with trying to make these reforms work accept that this is now law and whingeing won’t get them anywhere. I hope that the commissioners do the job they are supposed to do and that the balance of power does not rest as heavily on GPs as originally planned. I hope that hospital and community based health professionals have a significant say in patient pathway planning. I hope that the brain drain from Primary Care Trusts is not as bad as I fear it will be and that managers will provide robust leadership. I hope that the general public will understand that healthcare doesn’t come cheap and the NHS cannot pay for everything.

And most of all, I hope the new Headmaster will watch, listen and learn.


Rob Dickman said...

Very well said - if the unions and professions attempt to rake over old ground and reopen old arguments rather that face the future and try to make things work, then the NHS will pay a heavy price in terms of preparation and readiness for 1 April and beyond.

I think the public are confused about the reform programme and bored of all the in-fighting. So I suspect that the new SofS will look to step away from the reforms (after all, they're not his!) and look to concentrate his efforts elsewhere - perhaps on subjects and interventions that he think resonate much better with the public.

We'll see...

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