That this year is still the 100th anniversary of World War 1 seems to have escaped many people. 1918 was a momentous year, beginning with the onslaught of German Spring Offensive as their armies, freed from the Russian conflict, turned to the west.

Thanks largely to a restored Haig’s strategy and British fighting ability the offensive failed after two weeks. It was the beginning of the end for the Germans. Within 6 months the war was over. Victory had been snatched from the jaws of defeat. But the cost had been enormous, totalling nearly 180,000 British casualties – in just 15 days.

War in the trenches

This year we also celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS, and it is the year we must rescue the NHS from the chaos that Jeremy Hunt has plunged it into. Even the most incompetent British general could not have succeeded in demoralising his workforce the way our politicians have. The NHS is one of the largest and most successful organisations in the world. NHS England is five times the size of the Fifth Army, which held back the German Spring Offensive, yet it is treated as a plaything, an organisational laboratory for the neoliberal aspirations of the current government.

This great company could have treated all 600,000 casualties from the Spring Offensive, German and Allied, in just one day. That is how significant it is. Yet the government treats it with contempt, permitting the Secretary of State to behave exactly as the worst general in World War 1, dismissive of the employees, balkanisation of the assets, dreadful planning and supply, and the creation of crisis after crisis which the medical staff, like the exhausted troops in World War 1, have to cope with.

World War 1 lasted four terrible years. The Lansley bill was passed almost exactly 6 years ago on March 20th, 2012. This means that the dire mismanagement has now gone on for two years longer than the tragedy of the war. It now has to stop. We need to dismiss the failed strategy and its “generals”.

corridor medicine

Patients being treated in corridors – Lister hospital, Stevenage (Debs Thompson Facebook)

Where to begin? First, we challenge the obsession with targets, which only the witless and the control freaks deploy. It does not improve performance, but damages patient care in and promotes fear. We provide data showing its failure and the cost of that failure.

Then we demand that the NHS Reinstatement bill is debated and passed.

At this year’s Sheffield Festival of Debate begins with an NHS session on to how we do this on the afternoon of April 25th. It is called Saving the NHS for the Next Generation by stopping The Sovietisation of the NHS, signalling the start of our defence of the NHS – in Sheffield.

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One Comment

  1. Umesh Prabhu says:

    NHS and Social care are two of the greatest British icons which everyone loves, most people use then and need them badly and which everyone must make sure goes from strength to strength.

    Today, as NHS celebrates its 70th year, it is at cross roads. It has become a political football and both labour and conservatives want to take the credit for its success and blame someone else for its failures. The worst thing them blaming patients or families or hard working doctors nurses and others and sometimes including junior doctors!

    In reality, NHS has become too complex, too complicated Titanic to manage or lead with too many masters telling what to do and lot of central dictate and lot of naming, shaming, blaming and a culture of discipline, bullying is rife.

    NHS language has to change one from blame, bullying and pace setting, targets driven to one that of learning, supportive, kind, caring and compassionate culture.

    Today, NHS has 10,000 doctors shortage and 30,000 nurses shortage. Too many CCGs, Trusts and fragmented services. There are lot of Arms Length bodies and then there are others who make lot of money out of NHS, like lawyers, agencies, PFI Directors, HR, private consultancy, experts who do lot of medico-legal works.

    There is also no incentives in NHS for anyone who works hard, Only doctors get Clinical Excellence Awards and these are usually (not always) given to someone who supports management and leadership and they get huge pay offer for towing the party line!

    Some surgeons who want to do 6 hips or knees have too much obstructions because of poor systems, processes and perverse incentives like private practice. Many consultants want to work hard but there is shortage of well trained nurses or doctors and if you are lucky you will get a agency doctors!

    So NHS is in real crisis. Having said that vast majority ill patients still get the safest and the best care.

    We got to transform NHS and make some real changes and transform its culture from that of naming, shaming blaming and bullying to supportive and learning culture and safety and quality based culture and there must be excellent systems and process and more well trained staff must be available that depending on agency locums.

    NHS can probably save £20 to £30 Billion out of its £127 Billion budget if we get leadership, culture and health and social care transformation right and if there is good governance and accountability!

    If we do not transform NHS and social care and if we do not change the current leadership style from that of bullying and harassment to that of kind, caring and compassionate culture, patients, staff and NHS will continue to suffer and we will continue to waste Billions of pounds!

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