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The times we are working in now need a great deal of accelerated change and there must be no negotiating that down. So my mission statement for this part of my consultancy career is to be clear that there needs to be and will be a lot of change from the work that I do with individuals and organisations and if organisations don’t want that, then it is probably best to go somewhere else.

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Love Story 2 – the Conservative’s love affair with the NHS continues

Filed Under (Conservative party) by Paul on 19-05-2011

I was pleased to notice that the Guardian, in its editorial on the Tuesday 17th, picked up on the odd way in which the Prime Minister talks about how much he loves the NHS.

Back in April I mentioned the very strange leaflet that was produced by the Government (using public money for what was a profoundly political leaflet) which went on rather oddly about how much they love the NHS.

“We love the NHS. The NHS is our most precious national asset. Every second hundreds of people walk through its doors. Every week it saves thousands of lives. Every year millions of us rely on it.

We love the NHS because it’s there when the people we love fall ill. Because it’s there all the time. Because whoever you are, wherever you are from, however much money you have got in the bank, there’s somewhere to go to get looked after. And because that says amazing things about our country. That’s why we love the NHS”

I am so pleased that the Guardian also finds this language a bit odd. All this love seems to stand in the way of rational argument and, as we shall see later, raises the question about what all this love leads to.

The Guardian referenced the great Beatles’ song of 1968 “All you need is Love” and, much as I am sure the Prime Minister bases most of his political ideas on the philosophy of John Lennon, there is something that is decidedly “off key” about all this love.

Of course, after the chaos of the last few months, one might reflect that it is rather convenient that being in love means never having to say you are sorry.

I am of course pleased that the Government loves the NHS. True love is a wonderful thing – wherever it occurs. But going on and on about it, saying “I love you” over and over again, usually means that there are some decidedly not very loving actions that are being concealed.

In fact, as I said in April, when someone goes on and on about how much they love me it makes me anxious, not about what they say, but what they do.

If they love me so much why do they feel the need to constantly reaffirm the fact?

Also in April, and again on Monday, another word has entered the Prime Minister’s vocabulary – the word ‘precious’.

It’s almost as if the NHS is a very special vase, handed down by generations, and kept in pride of place on the mantelpiece. But for most people the NHS is a real living and breathing organisation that people use – and walk around all the time.

Then, on Tuesday night, in a meeting with Lib Dem peers and MPs, the Deputy Prime Minister also raised questions about the Prime Minister’s love affair with the NHS. (after all given last year’s passion between the PM and his deputy, Nick Clegg should know all about the fidelity of the PM’s love).

Apparently Nick feels that it’s not possible for someone who says he loves the NHS to simultaneously have as one of his advisors someone like Mark Britnell, because back in October last year Mark was recommending that the private sector should get involved in the NHS.

The strange thing about love is that different people can love very different aspects of the object of their affection. So I am absolutely sure that Mark Britnell loves the NHS. Indeed when we worked together in the NHS to improve the lot of our shared object of affection, I saw that emotion put to work.

So Mark Britnell, the Prime Minister, myself and I am sure Nick Clegg, all love the NHS.

But how will that affection translate into action? I am sure that for all four of us our true love inspires different actions.

And that’s the problem with basing a detailed reform programme on a powerful emotion. I am pleased we all love the NHS, but I still don’t know what that means for GP Commissioning Consortia.

Comments:

One Response to “Love Story 2 – the Conservative’s love affair with the NHS continues”


  1. …..In tears, like all love affairs!

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