We’re quite lucky this week because the Friday Surgery has managed to get an advance of copy of the Foreword of one of the new 5 Year Forward View's local Sustainability and Transformation Plan document being developed around the UK.
Transforming services together - building a healthy footprint for the future
The NHS is the greatest achievement in our history and our nation remains unwavering in that promise of universal healthcare, irrespective of age, health, race, social status or ability to pay. A promise of high quality care for all.
However, although our values haven’t changed, the world around us has. We are currently living in challenging times and these have implications for the delivery of world class health services in the UK. It is clear that with an aging population, innovations in technology and treatment and with more people experiencing complex health issues, we need to develop an NHS that is truly fit for the 21st century. This is an NHS founded on choice for you, the patient.
Firstly, we know that our patients are repeatedly frustrated at having efficient and responsive district general hospitals right on their doorsteps. That’s why we intend to close or downgrade around half of all district general hospitals. Effective 21st century emergency and maternity care is going to increasingly be about making sure that frail and vulnerable people are given the opportunity to take control of their own healthcare by travelling to distant towns.
We are absolutely committed to putting pictures of cute babies and vulnerable (but smiling) old people on the cover of any publications we produce on service cuts in the NHS. A 21st century NHS is going to need photos of happy babies and old people on the cover of documents that remove services from happy babies and old people.
In primary care, we know that GPs are currently facing unprecedented demand. There has been much frustration with NHS England due to closing surgeries and long waiting lists. That’s why, with co-commissioning, NHS England has made it possible for people to be frustrated with local CCGs instead. We need to be at the forefront of transferring debts from NHS England to local commissioning groups.
Patients, especially those who need regular medical treatment like kidney dialysis and chemotherapy should be able to choose how to get to hospital. That’s why we set out a plan to tender our patient transport service to a private company who have never done it before but fancy having a go. This way we can finally change the ‘ambulance nanny culture’ and let patients chose their own way of getting to hospital.
Mental health is a central pillar in our plan. We intend to put service users, carers and families in charge by withdrawing many mental health services. This way families and service users can take control and provide their own treatment. For those who do chose NHS services we will finally end the senseless culture of waste that has repeatedly seen properly trained professionals work with vulnerable people. Under our new plans, a deskilled workforce, armed with a first aid certificate, will provide a more responsive and patient friendly approach to care.
We have listened and responded to people’s concerns about making sure that commercial confidentiality protects private companies during contract procurement. That’s why we set out a vision that trains all of our staff to say “Sorry, commercial confidentiality means we can’t divulge that” to any query, even if they are only being asked how they like their tea. We want 21st century health consumers to have the peace of mind that companies like Circle, Serco and Virgincare won’t waste your valuable time by burdening you with red tape.
Most importantly of all, we are going to financially reward the NHS managers who are prepared to put themselves at the forefront of 21st century healthcare. 21st century healthcare should be about dedicated managers returning home from a hard day of efficiency savings to not know which bathroom to use because they have so many.
And finally we intend to listen to you. Without effective consultation, healthcare planning simply isn’t responsive to local need. That’s why we intend to hold poorly advertised meetings at times that people struggle to attend to stare distantly out of the window while you express your needs and opinions. And we respect that patients live busy lives and so commissioning decisions will occur in closed door meetings that are not publicly minuted. We need to grasp the nettle and accept that the future for integrated healthcare in the UK has to be about enabling more public servants to hide stuff.
We know now more than ever that we need to take a longer view -a Five-Year Forward View. This document sets out how the health service needs to change, arguing for a more engaged relationship with patients, carers and citizens so that we can deliver world class healthcare to the people who most need it. We are ready, we want you to join us.
For more information see http://nhaparty.org/the-biggest-attack-on-the-nhs/ and sign https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-plans-to-dismantle-our-nhs
NHA's 'Friday Surgery' is written by Dr Carl Walker who is a member of the party's executive committee.