Headlines: January 26th, 2007



There is a claim today that the National Health Service could learn from organisations such as the John Lewis Partnership, which show what can be achieved when employees can see that they benefit from their actions. It comes from Professor Chris Ham from the Health Service Management Centre, University of Birmingham. Meanwhile another expert suggests current problems in the NHS are due to ‘marketisation’ and a doctor argues for the service to be made more local.

All the views are set out in this week’s BMJ, under the title ‘How would you save the NHS? Allyson Pollock, Head of the Centre for International Public Health Policy at the University of Edinburgh, argues for the abolition from the service of the market and market mechanisms, including payment by results and foundation trusts. She also suggests an end to all contracts with private providers and the compulsory repurchase of PFI hospitals.

Steven Ford, a GP from Northumberland also writes that the NHS is not and never can be a business and he calls for “wholesale localisation” to be introduced throughout the service. “A coherent, locally responsive service, answerable to users directly is preferable to a national business failure with a demoralised workforce,” he says. But Jennifer Dixon, who is Director of Policy at the King’s Fund, believes current policies are “going in the right general direction.” The principle of introducing new incentives to try to improve performance is, she says, the right one but there are teething problems in other areas of the health services that need “modification or amelioration.”

In his contribution, the General Secretary at the Royal College of Nursing, Peter Carter, urges ministers to safeguard education and training budgets and to improve nursing recruitment and retention levels.