Tuesday, 25 June 2013

British healthcare needs more than reform. It needs a new health service.


The NHS as we know it must go if this is how its defenders react to criticism:

One caller told her they hoped ‘she dies on the way to hospital’ and she received a card ‘thanking’ her for her “hard work in closing Stafford Hospital”. The card, which has been passed to police, reportedly read: “Thank you for closing Stafford hospital, Ha, Ha, Ha, you better now spend more time watching your mother’s grave.”

We now know the full consequence, these self-appointed defenders of the NHS didn't stop at unpleasantness or rudeness, they drove Julie Bailey out of town:

“I am having to leave my home, my livelihood and my friends because a few misinformed local political activists have fuelled a hate campaign based on proven lies. The final straw for me was the desecration of my mum’s grave.”

There is something seriously wrong with an organisation so dysfunctional that its supporters resort to violence - to the desecration of graves. I know you'll tell me it's a few misguided nutters but they swim in the rich waters of the NHS or rather the unquestioning worship of the NHS and all it does.

Bristol, Maidstone, Mid-Staffordshire, Morecombe. There's a pattern here, a pattern that will be repeated again and again so long as critics of the NHS face what Julie Bailey faced, so long as healthcare 'professionals' hide behind committees of the great and good or run sobbing to overpowerful unions and similar clubs. And so long as people think it acceptable to attack people personally for the crime of criticising - or even asking for improvements to - one of our most important public services.

We need a new health service. One that isn't complacent about failure, defensive when faced with constructive criticism, unaccountable and secretive. A health service that really is for the people who use it not for the power games of the people who run it.


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