This headline from Jeremy Hunt, the UK’s Health Minister, is an important watershed moment. It’s a MUST READ for the headline but the article in Telegraph does not really have a convincing argument. Check it out!
There are three import threads to the argument:
Firstly, Hunt, in an interview with the Times, argues that it ‘s essential for the NHS to “provide proper out-of-hours care” again, including weekends.
Secondly, as well as “care” he cited the need to fully embrace technology. Let me quote:.
My own view is that over the next 10 years, if we embrace technology, if we put a real effort into transforming out-of-hospital care, then for the next 10 years the NHS can be sustainable – but we have to do this properly.”
However, it was the third point questioning the sustainability of the NHS which was the most significant, in my view. Challenged by a question, Hunt responded:
“I think it’s sustainable in the medium term if we are prepared to take some difficult decisions about how we deliver healthcare. But we are up for those decisions.”
For me, this last point is critical. The Health Secretary is admitting that the NHS is not sustainable in the medium term without huge change, including radical change to work practices and deployment of technology.
In my mind, stressing these two points alone is simplistic and fails to reflect the context of the challenge. The crisis is real and urgent, with people dying unnecessarily because of ineffective leadership and bureaucracy instead of front-line care. The NHS is one of the largest and most complex organizations in the World and the probability of effecting radical transformational change effectively has to be extremely low.
Once the NHS was a proud institution and the envy of the World but now it is a sad, anachronism of its former glorious past.
Economic historians may well cite this weekend as the beginning of the end for the NHS.
Over the coming months, this blog is going to explore in depth this theme, with the title:
“UK Healthcare – Thinking the Unthinkable”