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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National Voices “Share the Power” campaign

Filed Under (National Voices, Reform of the NHS) by Paul on 18-03-2010

As the election campaign gears up, one of the most important developments in health reform for several years has just happened.

One of the leading patient organisations  – National Voices – has launched a campaign that changes the terms of trade that normally represents patient opinion in the lead up to an election. National Voices is a coalition of more than 200 health and social care charities providing a collective voice for patients, carers and service users.

This is no simple reaction to health care change. They start by recognising that the NHS is gearing up for big change in the next two years and that this change is not simply about the need to make short term efficiency savings, but also to cope with the ever increasing demands of an ageing population, and of more people living with long-term health conditions.  

They recognise that there will be more demand for health care but that it must be provided with the same resource. The next page is dynamite:

THE REFORMS

1. Service change proposals must involve patients from the start

Whoever wins the election there will be major change in the NHS over the next two years, primarily cost-driven. This may involve proposals for closing and merging hospitals, closing parts of hospitals, or changing the locations from where services are provided. Sometimes this will be the right outcome; but patients and families need to be actively involved in this process.

The current processes for involving people in service changes are not fit for purpose, with too much tick-box consultation that doesnt really change anything. There is a real risk that major service change will fail to improve quality and responsiveness to patient need, and could make things worse.

National Voices asks NHS managers, health professionals and politicians to commit to the following principles:

Patients come first: changes need to be in the interest of those using the services and those who might need them. Do your homework. Use cost pressures as an opportunity to make things better, not cut corners.

Reach out, inform and involve: the local NHS needs to really understand the needs of those it is there to serve. It needs to be clear about the case for change and the options on the table and communicate them well. It needs to involve people early and give them a real say in shaping the final outcome.

Re-invest: the money that is saved by closing things must be reinvested in the local NHS to improve care. Start the new before closing the old: to build public confidence and ensure continuity of service.

Show leadership. Local MPs and NHS staff need to play a responsible role. The reflex “save our local hospital” is the line of least resistance and not always the right one. Not all local hospital care is good enough, safe enough, or in the right place. Many patients want to have more care and treatment nearer to home. Too many people are admitted who shouldn’t be, and stay longer than they should or want to. Some care is better carried out in the community, or in specialist centres further from home.

Here we have, for the first time, a very large set of public voices saying – in an election campaign – that sometimes it will be the right outcome to close parts of hospitals or merge them. For the first time there is a lobby demanding that local MPs need to play a responsible role – recognising that not all local care is good enough.

It will be interesting to see what those local candidates who have flocked to the knee jerk “save our local hospital” campaigns will do when confronted with this very large set of voices (and voters).

This will be a major part of my blog for the election.

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