John Redwood MP: NHS needs new managementBy Lucy Thorne
March 20, 2013
I was glad to see Dr Phillip Lee MP in this newspaper last week calling for the resignation of the chief executive of the National Health Service.
The scandal that has engulfed the Staffordshire hospital and threatens to spread to others is a grave one.
People want reassurance that any NHS hospital has high standards of patient care.
They do not wish to feel that they or their loved ones might be left to die of thirst or suffer from a lack of normal attention from staff.
Parliament this week has spent more time on the question of phone hacking, but it seems to me the issues in the NHS are of an altogether more severe nature.
Many of us want to see management change at the top to reflect the mistakes that have been made and to signal how important we regard improvement in these basics of care.
There are many good doctors and nurses in the NHS, and good institutions too.
I know of many constituents who are grateful for the care they have received, and for the support and help beyond the call of duty from members of local NHS staff.
What we need is the right direction from the top, and the guarantee that enough of the voted money gets to the surgeries and wards of hospitals to ensure good work can be a uniform blessing in the whole service.
The Government is well advanced with its reforms, which are designed to achieve higher quality care and better value for money.
The new Care Commissioning Groups will have the power to carry on using existing NHS facilities to provide the services we are used to, or to ask for others to come forward to offer something better where appropriate.
They will use competition as a force for the good where they think it can help, and will draw on the best of the collaborative and co-operative traditions in NHS hospitals and surgeries where that produces a good answer.
Crude politics often intervenes, with Labour sometimes arguing that the coalition proposals amount to privatising the NHS. What most of us admire and value in the NHS is the promise to all of us that we will receive the care we need, when we need it, free at the point of use.
Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are as much signed up to this core principle as Labour.
Many of us are not wedded to every bit of care being delivered by a member of staff directly employed by the state, in a building and with equipment all owned by the state.
That may be the best way to deliver care, but if a private clinic or surgery can provide a good answer which the NHS pays for on our behalf, that is fine by me.
In office Labour accepted this, and used more private sector providers to deliver more care when we needed it.
The new rules on competition in the NHS adopted by the coalition are meant to be the same as the Labour rules they introduced, updated for the new structure of the NHS the coalition has been creating.
The aim has to be great care for everyone. Some tragedies from past years show us that has not always been delivered.
To ensure better care everywhere in future may require change at the top, and may require new ways of providing care.
The judgement about this will be undertaken by local medical and management staff from the NHS, who are best qualified to decide where to find that best care.