On the first day of the BMA conference, The Times reports today that hospitals and employees are already reporting stories of cancellations of procedures, laying off of staff and a general short-sighted panicky response to the need to make savings. Although the NHS budget is ring-fenced [which we felt sent the wrong message to other public sector workers], the fact is that every sector of the NHS should be looking to see how they can deliver services more efficiently as it’s the right thing to do when you are spending public money! As a start, there is so much that could be achieved in the short-term that would have no impact on patient care but deliver £12bn of savings to reinvest to provide improved care.
As I said in our health manifesto, industry should be encouraged to provide more health services, individuals should be using services more wisely, professionals need to be enabling self-care and the government should hold providers to account to ensure the highest standards are met and kept. And likewise, unless and until strong leadership addresses unreasonable or unnecessary public demand, we are really not having the frank conversation with the public that we need to have. We hear it may be happening in private tho’….