Thursday, 29 December 2011

NHS Confederation gets it right

The comments by the NHS Confederation today are absolutely spot on, and I will be extremely impressed if 2012 starts with a genuine debate about how we change the NHS to make it a genuine Health system rather than the treatment system which we largely have today. This is a debate I have been having in political circles since May when my cabinet role moved to Health and Wellbeing and later Adult Services

There are huge issues involved in getting more care carried out at home - one of which is hospitals recognising that incessant growth on their part is no longer the answer.  In fact, part of their thinking needs to move towards   working out how to reduce hospital admissions by funding preventative work.  As an example, people are, of course, extremely protective and precious about the need for excellent stroke recovery in the UK, but we need to ask ourselves whether we should be more demanding about better stroke prevention services - which are more beneficial in human and financial terms.

The latter part of this is the role of the media.  They (as well as opposition politicians of whatever colour) seem to use the number of hospital beds as a prime measure of NHS funding.  Too many hospital beds is as much a sign of failure as it is of adequate funding; we need to change this.  As well as measuring how well patients recover, the media needs to focus on how well we prevent people becoming patients in the first place.

It is interesting that part of the debate today has been around the suggestion that the current NHS changes are taking up too much time and therefore are distracting from the ability to make this sort of change.  I strongly challenge this. Making Health provision revolve more around GPS has real potential to make our system much more preventative and much more people focused.  We need to be looking at how prevention and more care at home fits in with the current reform instead of using it as a reason not to listen to the wise words of the NHS Confederation.

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