My mission statement

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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How will the health unions and the Secretary of State respond to Tessa Jowell’s call for new mutuals running provision for the NHS?

Filed Under (Health Policy, Reform of the NHS) by Paul on 16-12-2009

A new and unexpected front opens up today, raising further questions about The Secretary of State for Health’s personal preference for traditional NHS forms of provision.

Again it makes me ask whether his personal preference is really Government policy.

One of his Cabinet colleagues, Tessa Jowell, has raised the idea of developing new forms of provision for the NHS based upon mutual ownership. She asks her Cabinet colleagues to:  

“ look instead at other successful ways of delivering goods and services. There are important lessons to be learned from studying how the Co-op and John Lewis work, companies owned, respectively, by their customers and their staff.”

She quite rightly points out that

“ Public services exist to serve, and are paid for by, the public, so it is the public that has the right to influence how those services are delivered, to build shared responsibility for them, and improve them by harnessing the efforts of both professionals and those they serve.”

This is a very different approach to the nature of public service organisations than that endorsed by the health service trades unions. For them public ownership equals state ownership and everything else is wrong.

Both Unison and the unions that at the time made up Unite, were against the creation of Foundation Trusts (FTs) in 2003. They were against them because they moved the pattern of public ownership away from political state ownership. Prior to FTs all the nation’s NHS hospitals were owned by the Secretary of State for Health. The 2003 legislation created a new form of public sector ownership. As Tessa Jowell points out, today there are 1.3 million members of the 122 Foundation trusts.

She also points out that the staff at Leicester primary care trust have formed a mutual to take over the medical services for homeless people in that City. Again a very different way of doing it from the past NHS organisation.

Tessa Jowell has set up a commission under Will Hutton to look at how this model can be brought more firmly into public services. If this were to happen in the NHS commissioners would be expected to look favourably at this new way of providing health services.

I am pretty sure I know that the health service unions will be against this move away from their traditional view of public service.

One wonders what the Secretary of State will say to his colleague….

All quotes from Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP delivering the Progress lecture, The Mutual Moment: How Progressives Can Capture the Ownership Agenda

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