It is at the pinnacle of a National Crisis and not after the event itself that the most pertinent questions should be answered about how supply chains and service provision can be improved to ensure that the national response to the same thing happening again is future-proofed.
So much effort within, on behalf of and supporting the NHS and it’s staff is being expended during the COVID-19 Lockdown, that many people including the Media and our MPs too are failing to allow room to think about the lessons that should already have been learned.
From the responses to appropriate comments and questions on social media, that much is sure.
It is now essential for the Government to ensure that the future of our universal healthcare service for all is safe and that we can all be confident that in a time of a future medical crisis like there is with COVID-19 now – should a pandemic or similar be repeated – the Country will find it much easier to cope.
NHS Staff are doing the best that they can with the resources and the support that is available.
But the time it has taken to put resources like ventilators and PPE in place, the need for the recall of retired and specialist staff who had let their registrations lapse and the suggested need for the whole country to acquiesce to a Lockdown in order to ‘Protect the NHS’ speaks volumes about the problems that already existed within the NHS before the Coronovirus Pandemic began.
We must all ensure the Government is compelled to both consider and act upon these supply and resorting issues immediately and appropriately when the COVID-19 Crisis is over and done.
If the real and underlying condition of the NHS is not considered in this way now, the lack of political will to deal with real problems unless they are under the media spotlight will ensure that nothing like the change that has been necessary for a very long time will ever get done.
Don’t be deceived into thinking that the money and resources that are being thrown at our hospitals now without limit will make a difference to the Nurses, Doctors and health workers in the long term. It won’t.
The NHS has institutional and cultural problems that cannot simply fixed by providing the Health Service with more money at a rate that is neither sustainable or at a cost that the Country can actually afford.
What the NHS needs is complete bottom to top reform.
Comprehensive reform is the only way that real value can be given to frontline clinical staff and their support – both in terms of what they earn, the responsibility and influence that they have and the support they have from the Government and the Public Sector.
Money will never work as a genuine solution to the problems that the NHS has, even if it looks that way, because more money will simply maintain the service in the state and condition that it currently is. And the NHS is not a happy place to work.
What we have learned and are now likely to accept is the people who do frontline jobs in services such as the NHS, healthcare, waste collection, transport and working in supermarkets too all have roles which are just as important to our lives and existence as any celebrity, football player, company CEO, journalist or politician – if not more.
Everyone has a big part to play in making the wheels of the Country turn. Not even bankers are the untouchable gods that they would like us to believe.
WE ARE ALL THE SAME. WE ARE NOT AND SHOULD NEVER BE DEFINED BY WEALTH, JOB, INCOME OR ANYTHING ELSE THAT MAY APPEAR TO MAKE US LOOK DIFFERENT TO ANYONE ELSE.
The Government must now take steps to ensure that REAL value is attributed to NHS Staff not only financially, but in the public policy and measures that the Government can take to support ALL people who are currently underpaid in relation to what it costs to live.
One of the most ridiculous things that I have read in recent days was that an advert had gone out from one particular Health Trust to employ a diversity officer at about twice the wage of a frontline NHS Nurse. This kind of stupidity in the management of political correctness applied in the workplace represents everything that is wrong with the NHS today. It has to stop.
This is part of a massive problem that the Government can and should be tackling head on.
Things that the Government should do include:
- Placing a ban on the use of agency and contract staff to fill frontline NHS roles to be enacted within 18 months
- Placing a ban on the outsourcing of management work to contractors, freelancers and consultants to be enacted within 12 months
- Management of all operational functions to be placed back in the hands of experienced clinical staff
- Rescind the European Working Time Directive and replace it with legislation that allows each individual to work the hours they choose to, providing their doing so will not put others at risk and that they can only work hours above those they are contracted to do so as a personal, non-coerced choice.
- The creation of a parallel extended vocational route (a genuine apprenticeship or time served route) to degree qualification as a Nurse for non-academically inclined candidates
- The cancellation of tuition fees for Nursing, Medical and other NHS-related undergraduate degrees for academic candidates
- GPs, Drs and Consultants who leave the NHS after receiving a UK education and on-the-job training with the NHS to be required to undertake 10 years service in their post-trained NHS role after the completion of training before they can ‘go private’
- That any employee transferring from a commercial sector role be required to undertake a minimum of 6 months clinical operations experience before being able to take up their new NHS role, unless they have gained worked within the NHS as a full-time NHS employee within the preceding 5 years.
- That no Public Sector employee should receive bonuses for carrying out the function that they were employed to undertake.
- All purchasing to be carried out for the whole network by a centralised service with ordering only carried out at local level
- The NHS ‘internal supply chain’ to be managed and operated by the NHS and not contracted out to external suppliers
- The cancellation of all existing PFI arrangements
- Removing the ‘right to sue’ from anyone who has not directly paid for NHS care in the event of something ‘going wrong’. (Directly to include those receiving private treatment on a private healthcare policy)
- Set up a specialist NHS Adjudication Service to make judgement on any negligence claims from patients who have directly paid for treatment
- Setting a basic standard of living level, ensuring that the providers of essential services such as utilities are either in public hands or run on a strictly not-for-profit basis and resetting the property market to ensure that standard housing is affordable to all.
- Remove the ability of Unions to call strikes or any kind of industrial action
- Set in law the requirement that the CEO of any health trust cannot earn more than 10 times the wage of the lowest paid member of staff in the trust – including any enhancements that come with the role.
- Pensions to be brought in line with general requirements
- The changes made by Gordon Brown to Pension Funds in 1997 to be reversed
One of the most important requirements of successful change for the NHS and equipping our Hospitals to be prepared for all future events is the acknowledgment that the NHS does not stand alone.
A significant number of people work professionally within the NHS and its supply chain. But by its very nature as a public service, the NHS and the people who staff it are effected by Public Policy right across the board.
It is therefore essential that the Government no longer treat the NHS like it sits in an isolated bubble – just as people outside of it understand Westminster and everything political to operate..
What the Government does for or to the NHS will have an effect on other public services and industry, just like what it does for them will affect the NHS too.
Some of the changes that need to be made are specifically related to the management processes within the NHS. But not all of them, as there are many more.
Identifying and implementing policy for the NHS and its staff that overlaps with other areas of life is beyond essential.
Without it, the next time we need the NHS just as we do with the fight against COVID-19 today, it will have long-since been placed in critical care.