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Tory story


10 October 2012

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So the Tory party conference is over for another year. Thoughts from a health point of view – frustratingly underwhelming.

The new Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt dodged many of the big debates after admitting he is yet to master the complexities of the NHS. This is despite his predecessor Andrew Lansley telling GP Business he had many conversations with him about the reforms while in post.

So the Tory party conference is over for another year. Thoughts from a health point of view – frustratingly underwhelming.

The new Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt dodged many of the big debates after admitting he is yet to master the complexities of the NHS. This is despite his predecessor Andrew Lansley telling GP Business he had many conversations with him about the reforms while in post.

It is clear the new health team have been given a job to do around communicating the reforms to the public and they duly obliged during conference almost unashamedly.

Hunt, Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter and Chair of the Health Select Committee Stephen Dorrell all told delegates “we have spent too long talking about the management structures of the NHS” and vowed to ‘humanise’ the changes going on in the health service.

CCGs were hardly mentioned during many of the debates, which is worrying considering we are in still very much in the throes of the reorganisation.

When I caught up with Hunt, I asked him whether he thought NHS staff have been too caught up in the detail of the reforms?

“Not at all,” came the reply.

“It is exactly those involved in the changes that need to get their heads down and focus on the changes and creation of new structures. But the public need to understand why we are making the changes and how they will impact them.”

So there will be one message for the public and another for NHS staff. Some perhaps will agree with this tactic, some won’t.

But it seems to me that in moving the discussions away from the structural aspect of the reforms so soon and increasing public expectation in demanding better outcomes from organisations before they have even had a chance to get going is dangerous.

The public needs to be kept in the loop about the priorities and focuses of NHS staff in this tricky transition year and for some that is laying the foundations for a sustainable and better NHS.

Sweeping the reforms under the carpet for public votes will not help the NHS achieve this.

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