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.

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About Julia Manning

Julia Manning is a social pioneer, writer, campaigner and commentator. Formerly a clinical optometrist specialising in diabetes and visual impairment, she is the founder and Director of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal and Social. 2020health has through research, events and campaigning influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. In 2014, 2020health were founding partners of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Since 2016, 2020health has increasingly focused on digital health and public health in the community. Julia is a Fellow of the RSA and now also a part-time PhD student at the UCL Interaction Centre, studying the use of digital technology for stress management in the workplace. 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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