What does it mean to be one of the owners of the most important public service this country has? Most people using the NHS don’t think about that question and neither do the 1m+ people who work in it. That’s a big part of the problem and that is what has to change if the NHS is to meet the demands made on it in the 21st century.
Whose NHS Is It Anyway? will help people start thinking like owners and about what power sharing with patients and the public should be like. That is what is needed to make participation and involvement part of the culture of public services, not an add on as it usually is.
Launched by the NHS Alliance on 30th June, Whose NHS Is It Anyway? is the product of many hands, including MAC’s, on the Alliance’s patient and public involvement steering group, led by Dr Brian Fisher, GP in Lewisham and the Alliance’s spokesman on user engagement. MAC is pleased to host this resource on its site and recommends it to all our readers. It is brief (only 15 pages) and practical – a double blessing for any policy document. Above all it sets out an action plan which could make things better quickly, starting with shared decision making in the consulting room.
PCTs have an uncertain future in the new government’s plans, but whatever structure is adopted for commissioning, it must be underpinned by the full participation of informed owners of the service – that’s all of us. One of the best things PCTs could do now is to help new commissioning consortia explore Whose NHS Is It Anyway? We pose these questions for those conversations:
- What works well now locally that can be built on?
- Where are the gaps and how can they be filled?
- Do we have the right user led intelligence to inform commissioning?
- Do we understand and practise co-production in determining what quality and responsiveness mean?
- How we do we handle complaints and redress and are we learning anything from this?
The answer to all of these is “could do a lot better is most places”. Whose NHS Is It Anyway? points the way to doing things a lot better. MAC is delighted to endorse it and to urge the new Coalition government to adopt its approach to ownership and engagement in the NHS and all public services.
For policy wonks, MAC’s responses to the questions posed in the consultation leading up to Whose NHS Is It Anyway? can be read here.