January 06, 2007

Saving the last bastion of Socialism

There was an article in the Telegraph today (behind their wall so I can't be bothered to find the link) about Sir Gerry Robinson and the six months that he spent with Rotherham General Hospital. His conclusions where that the NHS might be savable, but only if it where taken out of direct political control and the managers allowed to manage.
Another crucial element of his plan to fix the NHS is to "depoliticise" it. "The NHS is such a bloody hot potato, no one knows what to do. The Department of Health should not run it. Its job should be to find the right guy and let them get on with it. It should focus on straegy, not management."
Stumbling and Mumbling has rather a lot to say on this idea that all is needed is one good manager to make everything better. I would like to concentrate on his call for the NHS to be taken out of Ministry of Health control and depoliticised. There is a problem here as well because the NHS cannot be "depoliticise". It was designed to be politicised, as at the time it was built the socialists that built it thought that the best way to run anything was as a large centrally controlled system with a minister in charge. As Nye Bevan said:
the Minister of Health will be the whipping-boy for the Health Service in Parliament. Every time a maid kicks over a bucket of slops in a ward an agonised wail will go through Whitehall.
Until responsibility for the NHS is removed from the Ministry of Health then there is no chance of the Ministry of Health giving up control. To do so would be an act of extreme political masochism, accepting the blame for something that they have no hand in producing nor a chance of rectifying. So to save the NHS must become independent of government control with each trust running itself with the government simply acting as a supplier of funds, like the social insurance scheme used in France.


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