Tory Manifesto moves from giving us a hand-up to allowing us to step-up

People power is set to be the central theme of the Conservative Manifesto being launched later this morning. And this is the clear contrast between the Tory Party and the Labour Party: the Tories have moved from giving us a hand-up to enabling us to step-up; Labour have remained as the hand-out Party. And the stepping-up opportunities in health will come in different forms, from facilitating John Lewis style partnerships in healthcare organisations to demanding the publication of outcome data instead of process targets to inform patients, to real budget holding for GPs and patient-held records.

2020health itself was instigated as a response to me and my NHS colleagues’ despair at being utterly disenfranchised when it came to using our expertise to improve healthcare. Capturing the talent of the workforce and opening up opportunities for patient-professional-public collaboration is the re-enfranchisement that we have been waiting for. Yet I can hear the howls of opposition already, from the blinkered jobs-worth and the mediocre manager, previously sheltered and sure of a job and pension for life, turning wild-eyed to their union reps at the prospect of being held accountable by the people they purport to serve and having to account for their role. About time, but public sector employment terms and pensions are also in need of serious overhaul and as yet we don’t know if this will be mentioned.

Yet as I wrote in our own What Women Want Health Manifesto in March, there are still ‘demand’ giants to be slain in the NHS – neglect, risk, drift, commoditisation and conflict – and unless and until we tackle these, the NHS remains on a course of unsustainable expansion. Interestingly as the 2020health GE2010 Health Policy Tracker shows, at this stage there seems to be an emerging consensus between Tory and Lib Dem health policy. This may change tomorrow with the latter’s manifesto, so watch this space.

About Julia Manning

Julia is a social pioneer, writer and campaigner. She studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991, later specialising in visual impairment and diabetes. During her career in optometry, she lectured at City University, was a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital and worked with Primary Care Trusts. She ran a domiciliary practice across south London and was a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. Julia formed 20/20Health in 2006. Becoming an expert in digital health solutions, she led on the NHS–USA Veterans’ Health Digital Health Exchange Programme and was co-founder of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Her research interests are now in harnessing digital to improve personal health, and she is a PhD candidate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at UCL. She is also dedicated to creating a sustainable Whole School Wellbeing Community model for schools that builds relationships, discovers assets and develops life skills. She is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Digital Health Council. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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