The UK’s National Health Service is as usual the centre of a left and right wing political argument as to which side is offering or making the right decisions to maintain an efficient and value for money NHS. An NHS that benefits all entitled health care recipients and the British taxpayer.
Under a right wing government the accusations are that if any more private enterprise is involved then it will soon be a de-nationalised operation and only available to those with sufficient funds to purchase good health.
Under a left wing government the accusations are that too much and unlimited public money will be and has been, thrown at the NHS, with promises of huge capital investment. The downside to this, being a potentially bankrupt NHS that will not be able to deliver any sort of meaningful service to anyone.
The “Pernicious” lie uttered by the our Health Minister as a retort to Professor Stephen Hawkin for accusing him of appearing to want American style private Healthcare, may or may not be true but are these accusations and insults by either side rather misguided?
A solution is available
Is not the real argument one of training, not medical training particularly but training managers to manage. All political party manifestos seem to want to support and retain an efficient and praiseworthy service that is revered by the rest of the world.
There is no lack of will to want to achieve the holy grail of cost saving without loss of quality care. The failings are in a very inefficient service delivery and considerable waste of resources and money.
Mr Bevan when he conceived the idea of a free National Health System after the Second World War, always insisted that there should be no cost to the patient at the point of delivery.
Efficiency can be improved
Well how about efficient service at the point of delivery? Let us motivate all members of staff to look for ways to reduce wastage of time and materials, to look for the simplest way to execute tasks so as not over complicate or double up. Ask patients how they would improve the service they have received.
Forget the ‘how well have we done’ forms and ask how could things be better.
Ensure that there is no corruption in contracts for goods and services, prosecute hard and often where necessary. Promote a culture of respect and teamwork within, let nurses nurse and administrators administer.
Educate patients to abuse the system less. Train more staff in the way of routine procedures to relieve the pressure within specialist areas.
Teach team building to all NHS staff to encourage a positive attitude towards the system, albeit that there remain shortcomings.
Britain is proud of its NHS and the fact it has been a benchmark for all democratic countries throughout the world.
Are we slipping behind the competition?
Other countries are beginning to steal a march on us in many areas within public healthcare, let us learn from this and promote the good practices. Let us not just talk about medical advances but also administrative advances and train, train, train.
Let inefficiency be the “pernicious” factor and let us leave out the lies, the bickering and political point scoring.
We have become complacent about the day to day lack of efficiency and good practice and only boast of the technical advances and achievements. We are afraid to admit mistakes and afraid of upsetting dedicated staff if we reverse decisions or threaten to train staff to change their way of working.
We need to educate and train to motivate and promote real teamwork without the bad practices we have acquired over many years.
Let us not see the NHS as a bed of eggshells not to be walked on but a bed of eggs that will hatch a new generation of enthusiastic well trained health workers.
Notwithstanding the political football that the NHS is, there are some fantastic teams, confidently supporting each other with equally fantastic leaders and more numerous examples of best practice and on the spot ingenuity that defy public perception and tabloid column inches.
The Awesome Challenge
Contrary to any other peacetime operation, running a 24 hour operation welcoming any quantity and variation of needs from the imaginary to the “life hanging by a thread” in addition to scheduled operations and convalescence has to be one of the greatest organizational challenges in the world.
No need to book, just turn up
The overnight bed occupancy in quarter 1 of 2017 was 87.1% of national capacity
The average daily number of general and acute beds open overnight was 102,609.
Investment in training and developing the square pegs in the square holes and the dawning realization by some individuals that they are in fact “a perfectly formed square peg” with a valuable and tangible talent that contributes to the operation is the key to achieving a motivated focussed and effective team delivering a consistently high standard of service with justified pride.
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