NHS Reform

It was utter tosh yesterday from the acting chief executive of the NHS in England when he announced that the NHS didn’t have a funding crisis, but an opportunity for reform. I know we consultants and coaches come up with these things, but you have to face reality first.

Also, yesterday, the obituary was published of former chief medical officer, Sir Henry Yellowlees. I met him when I worked on the Department of Health and Social Security’s submission to the House of Commons select committee enquiry into the Civil Service in the mid 1970s. He struck me has having an authority, grasp of matters and appreciation of others, and set a standard his successors might have struggled to match. It was interesting to see the same thoughts in the obituary and to learn that he had become chief medical officer at the same time as the massive NHS reforms of the early 70s.

Since then, the NHS has not stopped being reformed or reforming. And, the current acting NHS chief executive for England (they usually leave out the territory, as if here in charge of of the whole thing) has been involved in many of them.

So why does the NHS need another opportunity for reform? Have the reforms not worked? Do they need to reform the reforms? Do NHS chief executives and managers with their six-figure salaries lack the ability to manage? Can they not improve things? If not, why were they appointed and why do they not get sacked?

What the NHS needs is to do a lot of ordinary things well. Like treating people – patients and staff – decently. (I was also in Watford General Hospital yesterday, but that’s for another time). It needs to provide care everywhere, as is done by the best nurses and doctors and other staff. It needs to stop being grubby and tatty. And if chief executives and managers can’t manage, they shouldn’t be feted with Downing Street summits and endless help from the Department of Health and its burgeoning agencies.

They should be sacked.

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