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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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Liberating the NHS from political interference (or not)

Filed Under (Conservative party, Health Policy) by Paul on 31-01-2011

This is a tale of how hospital services were closed once on clinical advice, reopened through political intervention, closed again because of clinical advice, and yet may be reopened again because of political intervention.

In the immediate post election euphoria of May 2010 the Secretary of State stood in front of several hospitals where there were services that he either reopened or prevented from closing. He was usually filmed alongside beaming new MPs who were thanking him for realising their election promises to keep their services open.

At the same time the Secretary of State changed the policy of his two predecessors and made it clear that it was his decision that would be final on hospital reconfiguration. His two predecessors said that they would always accept what the clinically-led Independent Reconfiguration Panel had recommended.

The current Secretary of State wanted to make it clear that he, as a politician, would make the final decision.

In the meantime he has made it clear that it will be up to local GPs to recommend at a local level what should happen to their local hospital reconfiguration.

In the last few weeks these policy strands have started to create a clear set of outcomes which have moved the smiling local MPs of May to another set of emotions.

On 17 January James Brokenshire, MP for Old Bexley, in the face of local GPs seeking to close his local A and E for good – not just the temporary closure announced in November – wrote to the Secretary of State asking for a new decision to be made. He is writing to lodge the request for intervention with the Secretary of State because the latter has made it clear that it will be his decision.

On 27 January Nick Du Bois, MP for Enfield North, wrote to the Secretary of State saying that he will be bringing local councillors to meet with him on March 7th to protest about the closure of  A and E at Barnet and Chase Farm.

During the election both of these MPs fought very vigorous campaigns – with the support of the Conservative Front Bench – to keep their hospital services going. The policy they were elected on – the development of GP-led commissioning – has meant that the politics that they were elected on – to save their local hospital services – looks like being disappointed.

The current Secretary of State will now have to choose between their (and his) politics and his (and their) policy.

Do his friends the GPs, or his friends the MPs win?


One Response to “Liberating the NHS from political interference (or not)”

  1. If, as seems likely, hospitals need to close it needs careful planning, clinical leadership and political courage. This government are abandoning planning in favour of the creative destruction of markets, except where their careers depend on it.

    Half of London’s hospitals to close?

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