On the face of it, the Government’s healthcare reforms are not controversial: GPs and other healthcare professionals making decisions on treatment with their patients on the basis of quality first, and value for money second.
What does it matter whether it is provided by public, private or charity organisations? Why the fuss and concern?
Is it because people think private or charitable providers are second rate?
No, because anyone that has used the St Mary’s walk-in centre, the Patey Day Centre, or has had a relative cared for by a Marie Curie nurse, knows that independent providers can deliver excellent services.
Is it because people do not think reform is needed? No. People know that too many people are still denied the drugs and therapies to which they should be entitled.
Has any previous NHS restructure been the silver bullet which delivers good service commissioning?
Emphatically it has not. It is politicians’ responsibility to address public cynicism and to convince clinically disengaged healthcare professionals that time invested in improving services will be rewarded.
We are all wise to the rhetoric of ‘one more push’, but the future ability of the NHS depends on these necessary reforms. That is why it was important to put the Health and Social Care Bill on hold, and the listening exercise that has taken place to produce a new, and better, bill must mark the start not the end of engagement.
It is no good prescribing medicine, however essential, if the patient does not know why it must be taken.
Reforms that invite patients, doctors, and nurses to take the driving seat will be to no avail if they won’t even get into the car.