NHS – lessons

The key lesson that has come from the Covid-19 pandemic is that the NHS is central to the United Kingdom‚’s way of life, including, importantly, the economy and that Government policy over many years has failed to recognise this. The response to Covid has uncovered significant NHS capability gaps including logistic provision, human resource, technical equipment shortages, failures in contingency planning, and organisational shortcomings at all levels from national through regional down to local. The scientific and technical communities, to a certain extent, have rescued the situation with rapid technical development of, for example, life support equipment and most notably developing vaccinations in record times. Limitations in the last ‚’Lansley‚’ NHS reorganisation have been exposed and despite ‚’NHS reorg fatigue‚’ the NHS clearly needs radical reorganisation. However, this time, this should not be Treasury-led a significant causal factor in the limitations mentioned above. There needs to be wide consultation prior to taking action but this should be started immediately. A significant national figure (could come from England, Scotland, Wales or N Ireland) should be appointed to head a panel drawn from all walks of life with majority NHS representation from a cross-section of specialisations, including the major support functions. This panel should be independent of Governments, the NHS, and the public health bodies of the UK. The model I have in mind is the Hillsborough Independent Panel which is the most effective national enquiry of recent times. It is inevitable that improvements to the NHS will lead to additional resource requirements and provision will be expensive. To be effective, cross-party engagement in all UK nations is essential with binding agreement to implement in full the recommendations that come from the independent panel, and commitment to financing the recommendations and O&M costs for the short and long term. The shortcomings exposed




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