There’s something surreal about being eyed by all the past Prime Ministers as you walk up the stairs at 10 Downing Street demanding you demonstrate your value to Queen and country, sitting at the former G8 table, with Margaret Thatcher’s portrait frowning down upon you as you debate the possibilities that are available to the NHS. Whatever your political persuasion these Leaders have been responsible for great change – not always to everyone’s taste admittedly, but they have all left their mark and influenced where we are today. And yet Change - or rather the apparent lack of it - has been the core content of our discussions.
Our meetings with political leaders – and we have now met several, from Local MPs,
to Policy Advisors, to the Prime Minister himself and most recently the new Procurement
Tsar of the NHS, Lord Carter – have been deeply interesting. Not least for
the fact that every Leader and politician we have spoken to is very clear that the
government needs to invest in healthcare, improve outcomes and reduce costs. They
are all aligned in that the NHS must change.
The main thrust of our conversations highlighted that:
Ø Considerable financial and clinical pressures are building within the NHS and the care system
Ø Which are making innovation, improvement, sustainability, funding and user experience big political issues
Ø Yet despite calls for explicit “acknowledgement of the problem” and “manifesto-specific policy solutions”
Ø Procurement and the healthcare supply chain remain an untapped opportunity for transformation
Ø With one third of required NHS investment capable of being unlocked in the supply chain by 2020…
Ø …But that calls for a different change model to engender engagement of executives and clinicians…
Of course we had some debate on the details and how we all have interpreted some of the ‘facts’ – such as the widely accepted ‘black hole’ which varies in size dependent on which report you read but in essence there is pessimism about the future and public concerns need to be addressed. Despite this I was disappointed by the apathy noted with some local MPs, who as public servants should be very aware and focussed on the public concern for this issue. They did recognise the opportunity but their desire to ‘get involved’ by opening doors was limited – by personal motivation? Or internal political sensitivity? Or ability to help? (perhaps more on that on another blog).
So the long and short of it all is we are all aligned the NHS must change. Where folk part company is on how.