First published 7th Sep 2011
You will be aware of the importance of the vote through the Commons this week on the health and social care bill. You will also be aware of the many vested interest groups which are lining up their forces to deepen the degree of polarisation of the debate. The 38 degree pressure group is emailing widely about the “crunch NHS vote”, painting a single all-or-nothing picture. As I’ve previously pointed out, the biggest demand from experienced and engaged NHS managers of all professional backgrounds over the last few years has been to remove the fickle hand of influence of the politicians from the tiller, so that the care service can be run as an effective business sector in which the diversity of players is a valued asset.
We are desperately worried that, yet again, the real debate is being derailed by emotional arguments which completely ignore the challenges which need to be addressed. Please help us find the middle ground. A ground in which the discussion can separate the challenge of understanding the changing needs for care, from the very different challenge of finding the solutions.
To help avoid the usual polemic, I’d like to suggest that the need should be expressed in terms of guaranteeing equality of access to a high quality service of care. That service must be designed to achieve the maximum wellbeing and independence of the whole population at an affordable cost to the public.
Similarly, the solutions should be defined in as neutral a language as possible. The solutions are perhaps best described as comprising a range of services offering appropriate, patient-centred care and support, able to take full advantage of advances in both medical science and other relevant innovations and new developments which can be used to advantage in the whole care process. Such advances may be in terms of leadership, business management, entrepreneurial ventures, organisational behaviours, partnership working and social engagement to select just a small range of domains which are fundamentally important to achievement of the care vision we have.
The biggest threat to the health of our nation, the fabric of the NHS and all other partners in the delivery of care, is to entrench them in business models and compartmentalised structures because the real issues to be debated have been lost in the partisan emotions of polarised rhetoric.
Please help join our demand for a reasoned debate which seeks to focus on really understanding and defining what the scale of health needs are, and seeks to encourage solutions to this need which are available equally to everyone who needs then and achieve the very best outcomes we can afford.