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‘The NHS needs fewer visions and more staff’

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‘It is a puzzle why SHA personnel are handsomely paid to sit at meetings and promulgate visions yet, if any of my patients were to do so, it would initiate an urgent hospital admission’

‘Good morning, sister. I wonder if you might help. I’ve been getting these visions about the future of the NHS.’

As a conversation stopper, this would appear to be pretty effective and I suspect referral would be in order to exclude underlying pathology.

But then I came across the recent outpourings from 10 strategic health authorities, whose documents form the basis of Lord Darzi’s NHS Next Stage Review. It is a puzzle why SHA personnel are handsomely paid by the taxpayer to sit at meetings and promulgate visions yet, if any of my patients were to do so, it would initiate an urgent hospital admission.

The management-speak in all these documents is enough to make anyone cringe. Wouldn’t a world-class service be achieved more easily if there were fewer people having visions and more doing the clinical, bedside stuff?

Perhaps I might offer a little friendly advice to the SHAs who have been setting out their visions for better healthcare.

First, those taglines. Of course, you aren’t likely to come up with ‘Being sick isn’t very nice’ but why plumb the creative depths with the ridiculously hackneyed ‘Towards a healthier future’, ‘Our vision, our future’, ‘Investing for health’, ‘Healthier people, excellent care’, ‘From evidence to excellence’? Perhaps for follow-up reports, you might want to try ‘From here to eternity’. I can see that being popular, considering we provide a cradle-to-grave service.

Then there’s your presentation. Maybe you have used colours to make your visions brighter and more user-friendly. On the other hand, perhaps you jazzed your documents up to disguise their vacuous, trite and tedious contents. It really isn’t enough to defend tired ideas and visions by implying that they drive target-setting and initiate action. Change the record, please. We’ve heard it all before.

I’m not surprised to learn that each SHA has identified areas of deprivation, and that something should be done about tackling health inequalities. Hello? Does anyone remember the Black Report of 1980?

The saddest part of these SHA visions is the terrible thought that poor Lord Darzi will have read and acted on them while trying to remain awake. So, I have a better idea. Why don’t we just decide to file these documents in the nearest bin and let us do our jobs? Now that’s what I call visionary.

Want to read more of Jane Warner’s opinions? Just click on the ‘more by this author’ button at the top of the page.

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