The National Health Service

The National Health Service was the reward for the greatest British generation of women and men who fought the fascists in world war two. It is the jewel in the crown of the UK. It is almost unique on the world stage. It is much maligned, fiddled with, adjusted and reorganised. But we pay half the amount in our GDP compared to the USA, the outcomes are fairer, the staff are easier to trust, and you can argue that you get a better result. It has been a political football for too long. The Government seems to be trying to privatise the NHS. You cannot do this without the consent of the people. You cannot do it anyway, it is the result of our finest hour. If you take it away we will come and put it back in place. It is the peoples and cannot be run down and destroyed by people who don’t use it and want to make money from it.

We have an NHS, it costs a lot of money. Reorganisations since 1988, I remember the poster. What do you call a man that ignores a doctor’s advice? Mr Clarke. This referred to Ken the Minister who was “reforming” our health service. We need to keep it, if only to see how public health can work, rather than let the rich pre-judge it.

One of the main problems is leadership. I saw a TV show where a management consultant was coming in thinking he could make the NHS more efficient. The trouble is it does not work like a business. You can very rarely cut corners in health. The people that work in the NHS are not mainly motivated by money, because they are caring. If they don’t care they cannot do the job. The programme showed a young surgeon saying how the Hospital, he was in, was run by a guy with three O’ levels telling a Consultant with five degrees what to do.

The papers who have always opposed the NHS with vicious lies say there is waste. There is some waste of resources, but it should be managed by people who know and have been trained in healthcare. Now you can go to prison if you make a mistake in CPR. Have you ever been in an arrest? Ten people charging around in chaos trying to bring a dead person back to life. Mistakes happen, it is a time for emergency action not prosecution.

I believe that Consultants should take over the running of hospitals, like they used to, as they understand healthcare. With the proviso that they have are backed up by a nurse that has worked with them over the years. The combination would be a good way of running the hospital. Each department should be run by the head. Bureaucracy, statistics, reports and unnecessary forms should be scrapped. In fact paperwork should only be used on the decision of the department heads. We should empower the experts. It is their ward and department. We do not need micro-management from above. It has never helped. Waiting times are irrelevant and just another function of the Neo-Liberal establishment turning humans into statistics.

Management would be better if the staff are not treated in a way that put them down when they make a mistake. If they don’t care then OK, but then they should not be there anyway. If a nurse makes a mistake it tears them apart. They wake up in the middle of the night panicking about some missed task as it is. Why pressure them even more. They put love in, why not put some back before they give up.

I believe the future is to train proper healthcare managers. I have mentioned a plan for the Glasgow School of People Management. If we start a course at this future establishment, we can fulfil this dream. If you take quality students and train them in anatomy, physiology, pathology, ethics, finance and law. Then when they are dealing with doctors and other healthcare professionals they will know what they are talking about. They will be able to lead, make decisions, handle the press, balance the budget and deal with legal claims properly. But the most important task would be to ration. The previous Government wasted 11 billion on unregistered cancer drugs. It kept people alive in painful terminal cancer for about 6 months.

Healthcare is not just a PR exercise to appease the Fleet Street beast. Leave it to the professionals. There always has to be a decision about whether treatment is worth it. For some patients they come to the end of life and to keep them alive is cruel. So keep them comfortable. In financial hard times we may have to make hard decision about treatment and we will have to accept it. They do in other parts of the world.
But we cannot expect NHS doctors to make that decision. Their hypocritic oath prevents them from making those decision. If our leaders are trained properly they will be able to make those hard choices.

There should also be an NHS pharmaceutical company, as there always was, which is more interested in people than profit. Press releases should be handled by healthcare professionals. There will have to be some scrutiny, but not from Fleet street or others that want to end the NHS. We will also have to toughen up on foreigners taking advantage of our free system. Because it not free we have paid taxes all our lives. Although we are a compassionate industry it is not right for people to fly around the world for free treatment that they have not contributed to.

The NHS is ours and we are keeping it. Let us do it properly and not compromise it.

Conway-Laird (2017)


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