I’ve not said a lot about the NHS bill that has been generating so much discussion and opposition over the last few months. The main reason for this is that I don’t feel that I know enough to speak with any authority either way. The NHS is such complex beast of an organisation (it’s the 4th largest in the world), that I just can’t honestly say one way or another what the impact of the proposed changes will be.
I am very sceptical too of most people I hear talking about the bill. They speak so assuredly (mostly in opposition) about what will happen if the changes are pushed through but, with a little probing, it’s clear that most have jumped on a bandwagon and have no idea or true understanding either.
It seems that a lot of people are idealistically opposed to any introduction of competition to the NHS. They talk about other scenarioes, like our rail network, where competition hasn’t worked well. But because competition hasn’t always worked well doesn’t automatically mean that it couldn’t be a good workable option for the NHS.
But, and this is a big but, whilst I don’t ideologically object to the idea of competition, as a pragmatist I do want to see solutions that work well and that truly are a better solution. My concern with the competition element of the bill is that we don’t know how well it would work. I am totally up for it being trialled, but it seems that this bill would have us jump straight in at the deep end with a full roll out.
The pragmatist in me is open to any changes to the NHS that might improve it. But due to the nature and scale of the NHS, I only really want to see changes that have been thoroughly tested and proved to work before full scale roll out.
One other thought I will add is that I do think that the NHS is in need of reform. It’s easy to look at the NHS as it is now and think that, for the most part, things are fine. And, as such, why change things? Sure make some tweaks here and there, but why bring fundamental changes to something that isn’t particuarly broken?
The case as I see it though for NHS reform is not about how it is doing now; it’s about the future. Whilst the NHS is solid now, I don’t think that it’s current setup is sustainable when you factor in the ever ageing population and ongoing immigration.
And the fact the NHS changes are about equipping the NHS for the future is what makes it a much tougher sell. People live in the present and struggle to envisage the future.
The problem for the government is that, regardless of any merit to their NHS bill, they have failed to bring the general public along with them. They haven’t managed to convince the public of either the need for the changes or of the changes themselves. As such, I think there’d be better off scrapping the bill and starting over again.
I hope that the people opposed to the bill though don’t end up killing the case for reform as well as the bill itself. The NHS does need to change and adapt if it is going to be futureproof.
I love this, posted on his Facebook wall, from my friend Dean Sharp:
I know you believe in what you believe, but isn’t it worth asking whether your beliefs have actually made you better? Are you sure they’ve given you the life that everyone else is looking for? For all the effort, are you really that compellingly different? Healthier? Happier? More alive? More loving? More human? Does anyone outside your belief agree? Everything meaningful in life must survive honesty.