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What to make of “the NHS belongs to the people – a call to action”


I have now read this document three times – and am still unsure what to make of it.

The Call to Action – is spearheaded by NHS England with signatures from a number of NHS bodies and the Local Government Association. It sets out a challenge – how to maintain a National Health Service that is free at the point of use and able to effectively respond to 21st Century health and policy challenges.

With the exception of Cllr Zoe Patrick who is the Local Government Association (LGA) Health and Wellbeing lead all the signatories are the senior officers of the signatory organisations. However, I can find no evidence that this has been discussed at the LGA Community Welleing Board (which Cllr Patrick chairs) in May or July of this year.

There are no signatories from provider organisations such as the NHS Confederation (with the exception of local government) or from interest groups such as the NHS Alliance and of course there is no ministerial name here.

 Where is mental health? As is far too common in official NHS and Government material – there is little about mental health in the document a passing reference to “we need to do far more to help those with a mental illness” will not do.

The Analysis states that….

It identifies a number of challenges….

The document identifies some possible areas for debate such as….

Prevention – Should we invest much more in in prevention? I think the question here is still framed too much around health and care – and needs to be broadened to include the social determinants of health.

The Public – How do we give patients (the public?) greater control over their own health?

Targeting – Services need to be more tailored. Although it does not say this – this is of particular relevance to easily ignored communities and people.

Economic Growth – “the NHS is the single largest customer for UK health and life science industries”. There is a bit of an irony here – NHS and Government funding into such institutions as the NIHR are overwhelming focussed on clinical and technological interventions – yet the document calls for greater investment in prevention and personal control. Its no good making the economic case for change and calling for continued investment in expensive high tech interventions.

Call for debate

This is the bit where I start to struggle – the proposition is that NHSE will lead a national debate on priorities and that this (“biggest debate ever”) will feed into Clinical Commissioning Groups in 2014/15 and 2015/6! What happened to localism?

Like many other people I am involved as health and wellbeing activist where I live. Yet this call to action does not engage with me – it feels like a distraction to local work –  I struggle to see how this helps us develop a stronger local voice.

This feels short term, exhausting and top down.

We need more than what is proposed. Here are two things that I think would help:

It means letting go

What do you think?

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