Get rid of the politics

Posted on 30th April 2017

“Cynics are - beneath it all - only idealists with awkwardly high standards.” 
― Alain de Botton
Call me cynical if you like but the phrase ‘you can’t trust the Tories with the NHS’ was always too specific to one political ideation, rather,    I believe the phrase should be modified to ‘you can’t trust politicians with the NHS’.
Look at the evidence. Labour spent millions more on the NHS during their 1997 – 2010 period in office for arguably very little in return, Lansley’s 2011 reforms of the Health Service basically involved rearranging the chairs on the decks of the Titanic (again, at great expense) and the fact that all politicians are putting their faith in an ‘integrated health and social care system’ are deluded when it comes to the fact that in Northern Ireland (where there is already an integrated health and social care system) they have exactly the same problems, potentially to a greater extent, that exist in the NHS throughout the rest of the UK. Look also at the communications nightmare that was the government’s attempt (much watered down) to modernise the contracts of junior doctors, that has basically destroyed the trust of doctors in the Conservative party and demoralised doctors further than necessary.
The magic bullet to NHS reform does not exist. Which is precisely why this website exists – to obtain ideas from across the political spectrum on how the NHS can be reformed for the betterment of patient care.
At NHS Reform we now have a team of editors (four to be exact; one Conservative, one Labour, one Liberal Democrat and one patient leader of a wavering Labour, non-Corbynite persuasion).
Now that an election has been called all of us (I speak on my own behalf, at least!) will be publishing blog posts arguing about the Reforms that we believe are key to the success of the NHS. These blog posts will be from our own perspective, rather than the perspective of the views of the editorial board as a whole.
My first, and probably most controversial suggestion is that the politicians should sod off, to put it rather more politely than original edits of this piece.
There should be a non-governmental organisation that deals with the health service and the only role that government should play is in deciding its funding (which should be put to it by the non-governmental organisation).
This non-governmental organisation should be made up of a representative panel of the workforce, the public at large, taxpayers, organisations such as The National Institute for Clinical Excellence who focus on evidence-based health economics-based provision, and importantly, patients should also be engaged in its work through direct partnerships as part of the panel.
We should ensure that the panel has the power to close hospitals (shock, horror!) and other services that are not providing value to patients, the taxpayer or public at large. It must have teeth and it must be the ultimate authority in evidence-based provision of high quality healthcare that remains free at the point of use.
We must have a shift from our obsession that health is too important not to be under the control of ministers and Parliament. Yes, there can be Parliamentary scrutiny, with lots of transparency (conflicts of interest of panel members must be clearly stated, for example, and the Health Select Committee can scrutinise), but Parliament must not have the power to overrule the panel.
Ministers have campaigned in Parliament for health service cuts and reforms, and against them in their own constituencies for too long. We cannot continue having the NHS being used as a political football. 2017 is the big opportunity for the greatest reform of the health service since it was founded over sixty years ago. Now is our chance to seize control of the NHS from politicians and ensure the right people have power over the delivery of care. Now is the time, we must not step back and we must act before politicians, from across the spectrum, destroy what the British see as a religion.
Dr Adam Dalby is a doctor at Hull Royal Infirmary and Conservative Party Member. This piece is representative of his own personal views and not the views of any organisation he works for, nor does it represent the views of the NHS Reform Editorial Panel as a whole.
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