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Only the NHS

July 16th 2023

I use the National Health Service myself and arguably owe my life to it.


The NHS is staffed by dedicated medical professionals at every level ,  supported by equally dedicated secretarial and ancillary staff. Without the service huge numbers of people would not receive healthcare and it is right that the NHS accordingly receives massive Government  support. The present administration`s commitment in terms of funding is unparalleled,


All that said – and this is a personal and not either a Government or a Conservative view – I have come to the same sad but inevitable conclusion as many others that the NHS in its present form is no longer fit for purpose and requires a radical overhaul if it is to properly serve the healthcare needs of future generations.


Successive Governments of all political persuasions have engaged in reforms (I have myself presided in Committee over legislation relating to the NHS on too many   occasions) that appear to have generated additional tiers of bureaucracy and management at every level while diminishing the resources available for actual healthcare. Those working within the NHS comment all too frequently with great frustration on the inefficiencies and waste that are now built into a monolithic organisation that is, in its present form, impossible to control.  That cannot be allowed to continue.


The pandemic and subsequent industrial action, coupled with inflexibility,  have led to a backlog of cases that cannot be allowed to continue but that situation will not be resolved by attacking the provision of private health services which is the main thrust of the 'Only the NHS' campaign.


It remains absolutely the case that the NHS is and must remain `free at the point of delivery` but that should be no bar to the contracting, by the NHS, of excellent private healthcare services without which waiting lists would be  still longer. Indeed, it is often not understood that GP services are individual private businesses! GPs are contracted to the NHS but they are not a part of it and they are not directly employed by it and that has been the case since the creation of the service many years ago.


We are in the process of training still more much- needed doctors, nurses and midwives and I firmly believe that in return for that training we have a duty to require a degree of level and service to the NHS: it cannot be right that expensive training facilities and effort can be exploited, without repayment, by those who then choose to take their talents overseas. Equally, we must create a far less bureaucratic structure in which dedicated staff can work with proper and fair reward, in a service where morale is high and in which people are able to pursue  the vocation to which they have been called under terms that properly reflect the local needs of local people which may vary geographically.  At the same time it is vital that we protect our centres of medical excellence in which research and science can thrive and the cures for as yet unresolved conditions can be achieved.


That does not require the dead hand of further control but a radical re-think to provide solutions to the problems that we face to meet the challenges of tomorrow.  Not more `nationalisation` or `privatisation` but an understanding that only fresh thought rather than yesterday`s tired `solutions` will deliver the outcomes that are required,.

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