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.