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International Primary Care Association

Clinical Focus Volume 6 N1


The festive season would be over by the time this issue reaches you. We certainly need glad tidings. There are national and international calamities disrupting our economic and health related wellbeing. The Greek economic crisis may well have enveloped Italy and other Eurozone countries with the detrimental effect on the EU economy. As about 40% of UK exports are to Europe this will undoubtedly have a major negative impact on our GDP and therefore on public services. The austerity measures introduced by the government have prevented a financial UK meltdown but at what cost? The NHS will lose £20 billion over 5 years and all other public key sectors are similarly affected, education, welfare, police, councils. However, let us not forget the less obvious targets for reductions in support, such as children’s services, domestic violence….

These are the consequences of our financial profligacy over a decade and a half. As far as the NHS is concerned mismanagement, by successive governments, has resulted in a moribund work force, demoralised and directionless. The spectres of the likes of Staffordshire Hospital, neglect of the elderly, the use of sticking plaster HCAs to shore up services is the end result of a malaise. This affliction is seen in frontline staff that has little or no say in how care is delivered.

All sensible voices advocate more power and decision making responsibility to frontline staff but every reform tends to make this an even more remote possibility. That is why I found the decision to allow Circle Health, a private organisation, to take over the running of Hinchingbrooke Hospital a little odd. That was until I heard the company’s CEO indicate that he intends to run the hospital within budget, meet all target requirements etcetcetc, by placing power into the hands of frontline staff! It would seem that our masters hear only the voices and accept the promises of the third parties and not their own staff. It remains to be seen whether two organisations with completely different cultures can be merged and succeed. NHS altruism and private profit do not make good marriage partners.

The here and now is that healthcare professionals are generally dedicated to their work and despite extremely trying circumstances deliver excellent care. If no one congratulates us then maybe this is a time of year to provide oneself with self-adulation and internal approbation. Whatever the politicians, economists, health analysts and financiers say, the patient, for frontline staff, remains at the centre of our work. I think the one thing that the GMC may have got right is the very first line of its Good Medical Practice: “Make the care of your patient your first concern”. If the motive behind this one sentiment could be executed by all healthcare professionals and dare I say it, also non-clinical staff, the NHS would be a far better place, ethically, clinically and financially.

Professor Ram Dhillon

Additional Info

  • Authors: Sophie Khadr& Dawn Wilkinson
Read 2158 times Last modified on Tuesday, 03 May 2016 14:36

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