I listened with some trepidation to the Prime Minister’s speech this morning, which you can read here at http://www.politics.co.uk/features/health/david-cameron-nhs-speech-in-full-$21388842.htm. Was he going to subtly shift from the crucial parts of the Health Bill that are likely to make the difference in the long term to the cost effectiveness, responsiveness and sustainability of the public service most of us rely on? Hard to tell of course what subtle shifts will appear when the Bill resurfaces but I was pretty reassured that he will do his utmost to take on the vested interests opposing it in the shape of a heavily unionised workforce dominated by professional self-interest.
We have a curious alliance between those who oppose the Bill on political, ideological grounds, the internal vested interests who naturally don’t want any change which might affect their working practices and a more puzzled group who oppose it because they have been repeatedly told it is bad. My conversations in parliament are bizarre; the vast majority of my colleagues have been inundated by anxious briefings from organisations who assume the changes will be bad for them even though there’s no evidence that it will have any impact at all on their area. Many colleagues assume that because I worked in the NHS for 30 years that I must also be opposed to change. When professionals threaten that services will be ‘more fragmented’, more ‘variable in quality’, ‘cinderella services will be ignored’, it’s the same old shroud-waving that professionals learn to do very early in their career. No wonder the public is worried and no wonder they feel safer with the second rate NHS we’ve got rather than risk any change.