Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Patients First...

Writing in the New Statesman blog, Rafael Behr admits the real truth surrounding Labour's unprincipled opposition to the Coalition's NHS reforms in one sentence - Another way of putting this might be that market forces are tolerable when Labour allows them to operate in a carefully controlled environment, but destructive and corrosive when unleashed by Tories and Lib Dems. That sentence sums up the opposition. Its not about patients. Its not even about policy. Just visceral hatred of anything proposed by the Conservatives. But the real shame - and no doubt Ed Miliband calculates these things to carefully advantage his union paymasters - is that once again, Labour is on the side of vested interests, against the interests of patients for whom the health service should be run.

I can understand why professional trade unions like the BMA and the royal colleges will always resist change believing, quite wrongly, that they alone know how a health service should be run. They fought every reform through Blair's New Labour years, as well as the original creation of the NHS back in 1947.

But a political party which claims to represent the people? Surely not. Labour is now the only major party clinging desperately to the past. Preferring instead to support the bureaucratic processes and vested interests who want no reform. It is deeply shameful of Ed Miliband - the most left wing leader since Michael Foot - to deny ordinary people a National Health Service driven by patients - their needs, their choices, their health.


Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Scottish people are too important for this...

It may be protocol to have polite discussions with Alex Salmond on the timing and question for a Scottish referendum, but who are we kidding on this one? The longer things can be stretched out and the more obfuscation by the SNP, the bigger Scotland's would-be Prime Minister looks. Its the sort of game that Salmond plays well. He's been at it for years.

But as soon as you start to examine the implications for an independent Scotland - from bailed out Icelandic Scottish banks to which currency the Scottish people would like to have no control over - it becomes very clear that Salmond does not speak for the Scottish people. 

The reality is that independence would make Alex Salmond, Scotland's first Prime Minister. An ambition he has held for a very long time. And that is what this is all about. This man will sell his own country in order to achieve his personal ambition.

The British government should bring forward this referendum to May 2012 - just three months time - with a simple in/out question and have done with it. Independence is too important an issue for the Scottish people to be sacrificed on the alter of Alex Salmond's ego.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Patients first...

Imagine how our banking system would look if it were run for the customer. Modernist glass and beach wood waiting rooms fitted with plush, comfortable chairs before your Relationship Manager ushers you in to a private room for a consultation where their undivided attention addresses your financial health.

But rather than being paid for selling you more and expensive products, the opposite is true. After several years of in-depth training on the full range of financial products, they have a professional duty to ensure that any advice they give is demonstrably in the interests of the customer. Not the bank. A world where complaints are taken so seriously, that a Relationship Manager could be struck off by their professional body and serious fines imposed on the bank if incompetent practise were found.

Furthermore, that Manager is responsible for reappraising and reviewing any financial commitments at every stage of your life. Indeed, were any new commitment required - a smaller mortgage for instance - your Manager would not only explain and gain your consent, they would negotiate the terms with the lender, set up the contract and once up and running, review the commitment at regular intervals, mindful that better deals may well be switched into at any time. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

Well that is exactly what the Coalition's Health and Social Care bill is all about. Putting the patient first. And just like the scene above, when GPs are given commissioning powers, they'll manage the care of their patients, knowing exactly what is best for them, right through to a successful outcome and beyond. How terrifying is that?