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15th April  2015

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Sir Robert Francis

In conversation with Roy Lilley

Whistle-Blowing, Complaints, the CQC and Local Guardians   

Health Chat at the King's Fund 18th May Details here. Tickets selling fast.

News and Comment from Roy Lilley

The Tory bodice ripper is out. The manifesto can be down loaded here.  Hosted on amazonaws.com servers. (Interesting?). Eighty three pages, seven chapters. The NHS is on page 37-39; five headings:

  • continue to increase spending on the NHS, supported by a strong economy, so the NHS stays free for you to use
  • spend at least an additional ?8 billion by 2020 over and above inflation to fund and support the NHS's own action plan for the next five years
  • ensure you can see a GP and receive the hospital care you need, 7 days a week by 2020, with a guarantee that everyone over 75 will get a same-day appointment if they need one
  • integrate health and social care, through our Better Care Fund
  • lead the world in fighting cancer and finding a cure for dementia

It appears the Tory Party Conference promise to recruit 5,000 more doctors has been dropped, side-lined, forgotten about? Who knows? No commitment to more nurses or allied health professionals. I can't find a reference to the 3,000 more midwives we were promised?  Whatever...


The auction of the professions has been a cornerstone issue in the election. There are about 7,000 more nurses, midwives and health visitors in the health service than there were in May 2010 and more than 9,000 more doctors. However, the time it takes to train health professionals means the coalition can't realistically take the credit for that.


For NHS insiders the manifesto will be a relief; there are no new ideas, no new organisations and nothing innovative or eye catching. This is a manifesto written in the past; full of we have's.


The Tory story, goes back to about 2013... like a family who never mention a recidivist boozy, betting, belching uncle, Andrew Lansley and his cockamamie have been air-brushed out of existence. All the good stuff starts in the Jeremy Hunt era.


Instead, lots of 'transparency', 'sharing' and 'access'. No markets, market testing or competition.


"People deserve patient-centred healthcare not more bureaucracy..."


They sure do!  It's just a pity it's taken 5 years, 30k jobs and ?3bn to realise it. This is a manifesto that could have been written by the Labour Party in 1980


Like a horse and cart, bubble and squeak, Derby and Joan, a strong NHS is joined at the hip with a strong economy. I think I have caught the ear-worm!


This is as reassuring as hot milk at bed-time and as friendly as yer granny's cat but like the paper boy on a Sunday... you can't rely on it.


How to measure 'being the best in the world'? Dunno. 'Leading a fight for a cure'? Dunno. NHS 'free for you to use' but provided by whom? Dunno. The increases in access, 7 day working and all the rest are simply unaffordable.


The politicians have grabbed Tarzan's plan, wrapped themselves in it and made it something it is not. It is not a solution. It is designed to give us a result. A balance, a stability and that's all.


Let me highlight this for the last time. In fact, please... print this out and put it under a magnet on the fridge, nail it to the office door and Blu-Tac it to the forehead of any politician who comes calling:


"PROVIDED the NHS is funded in line with inflation AND it can manage an unprecedented 3% a year efficiency savings; ?8bn MIGHT BE ENOUGH to keep the lights on and pay the wages. It is NOT enough to do anything new, employ extra people or polish up the knocker on the front door."


And, there is another little thing.


We know the NHS will muddle though, manage and very likely do even better than it does now. However, we also know the logjam in the system is to be found up-the-road at social services.


The manifesto mentions social care on 10 occasions; mainly in the context of not having to sell your house to pay for it. It mentions social services once.  There is an expectation that the Better Care Fund is in someway, new money.  It is not, it as recycled as tap water.


Elections are probably the most important part of democratic society but they have been reduced to the trivial, mundane and misleading. They have become an auction, a mart and a bidding war.


It's all very disappointing. 


Sir Robert Francis,

in conversation with Roy Lilley 

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Sir Robert Francis
In conversation with Roy Lilley
18th May 2015
King's Fund
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