The end of supermarket sweep for the NHS…

Gerry Robinson was interesting last night on his Panorama programme about NHS reforms. Maybe it was because I was mending my son’s school trousers (after 2 days back) while I watched but I seem to have missed the moment where the factual analysis was dismissed and he turned from being a pragmatic businessman to an emotional supplicant. I fear, he whispered, that this could be the end of the NHS… without telling us why, on what basis. It was a real shame as his interviews with GPs were good and got the opportunities and worries of the Health Bill across well.

This Bill remains a huge challenge for the government, especially if the whiff of ‘the end of the NHS’ really takes off. The genuine tragedy would be that this is a false scent. Yes the process has been chaotic, the complexity unnecessary, the alienation astonishing, the distraction (from the essential task of more efficient spending) disabling, but the NHS has ALWAYS been an institution of partnership between the public and private sectors. There is no conflict, there is no threat. Consultants will go on working in NHS and their private practices. Industry will continue to supply the kit, the medicines, the beds and bed-pans that enable NHS employed nurses and self-employed GPs to do their work. Care will still be mostly free at the point of delivery in the way it is now.

What it will be the end of is treating the NHS budget as a bottomless pit. Doctors and nurses may want to work as if there was no end of supply, a daily supermarket sweep where they can ignore the checkout, but with government allocating nearly 25% of it’s Totally Managed Expenditure on health and social care already, this cannot go on. It is unfortunate that instead of having a national debate on healthcare spending and priorities, we have had the messy process of this Bill. But we are where we are. We need to get this Bill passed now, so that we can get on with the far more crucial tasks of improving efficiency, ensuring value for money, strategic planning, encouraging self-care, rooting out fraud, educating patients, incentivising healthy choices.



About Julia Manning

Julia Manning is a social entrepreneur, writer, campaigner and commentator. She is based in London and is the founder and Chief Executive of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal. Through networking, technology, research, relationships and campaigning 2020health has influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. Julia studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991. Her career has included being a visiting lecturer at City University, a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital, working with south London Primary Care Trusts and as a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. She specialised in diabetes (University of Warwick Certificate in Diabetic Care) and founded Julia Manning Eyecare in 2004, a home and prison visiting practice for people with mental and physical disabilities using the latest digital technology, which she sold to Healthcall (now part of Specsavers) in 2009. Experiences of working in the NHS, contributing to policy development, raising two children in the inner-city and standing in the General Election in Bristol in 2005 led to Julia forming 2020health at the end of 2006. Julia is a regular guest on TV and radio shows such as BBC News, ITV’s Daybreak/ GMB, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions, BBC Radio, LBC and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week. She is mum to a rugby-mad son, a daughter passionate about Shakespeare, and wife of a comprehensive school assistant head-teacher. She loves gardening, ballet, Zimbabwe, her Westies Skye and Angus, is an honorary research associate at UCL and a Fellow of the RSA.
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One Response to The end of supermarket sweep for the NHS…

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