By Gail Beer, Director of Operations, 2020health
Yesterday’s performance by Sir David Nicholson would have confused many who work in the NHS. Here is a leader claiming he did not know about Standardised Mortality Rates, when the rest of the NHS was all too aware of them post Bristol. He then went on to claim that the safety and experience of the patient in A&E was more important than meeting the four hour waiting time target.
As someone who has worked on the shop I suddenly felt like I had been whizzed back through time to the First World War where the generals’ rhetoric bore little resemblance to the truth of the matter in the trenches. NHS staff are under pressure to meet targets everyday and there are plenty of examples from clinical staff of situations in which they feel compromised. Yet they are still fearful of voicing concerns in case of retribution. For many, Francis will change nothing unless something else changes.
Politicians of all parties are lined up to support Sir David. We do not. And let’s be clear we are not being personal. Our views would apply to any leader who had just overseen one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the NHS.
We are told he is the only man who can lead the reforms; that there is no one else. Yes, this is a difficult time for the NHS, yet another reform and more interference from politicians, be they Conservative or Labour. Changing horses now is probably not the best idea, but then again what better scapegoat if all the reforms go wrong. To take over as a new CEO in the next few weeks would be like drinking from a poisoned chalice and no one in the their right mind would be brushing up their CV to move into the hot seat just yet. Is there no one else to lead? Of course there is. There are a number of talented people waiting in the wings. When Sir David is gone will we be saying of the new man or indeed woman ‘ah but they’re not as good as Nicholson’? Doubtful.
What does concern us here is that Sir David is the leader of the NHS and it is those he leads voices’ which should be heard, not just his supporters in the Houses of Parliament. It is the Medical, Nursing and other clinical staff who must have confidence in him and most of all it is the public, patients and those who worry about sick loved one. If we are not listening to either of these groups how can we say we are really putting patients at the heart of the NHS and that we really value the views of clinicians?