A former Minister who has responsibility for NHS reform, Lord Warner, has launched an extra-ordinary attack on all those who work in the NHS. He cites "productivity" issues and resistance to change within the NHS as the major causes for the failure of Labour's investment programme and programme of reform. Now I know the NHS has come under fire from all quarters over the past few years, Picking Losers alone seems to lay in in to it least three times a week, so I guess it should be expected that the government comes out to defend itself (rather than wheeling out a spokesman with no answers). But this statement is ridiculous and completely unhelpful. It is classic Labour, not taking responsibility and not listening to the people who actually know what they're talking about.
Is spending £12bn on an IT system that the Commons Public accounts committee has warned will deliver no clinical benefits a small reason why we have not seen improvements in the NHS despite massive investment of public money? Or maybe we could look at the cock up with the recruitment as they have an online application system that doesn't work and have created an environment where there are too many doctors and not enough jobs? Perhaps you agree with the the British Medical Association who lay the blame on "ill thought-out Government policies" such as the target driven culture and the headline grabbing figures which actually stop people getting the attention they require just so the targets are met. As Dr Jonathan Fielden, the chairman of the BMA's consultants' committee claimed "Doctors are under severe pressure to meet targets and keep their mouths shut." Or you could go for the reform that gave the option for GPs to opt out of patient care in the evenings, nights and weekends and for the Primary Care Trusts to organise alternative cover which was described by a cross-party committee report as "shambolic and ran hugely over budget." Or how the government's decision to award all their consultants with a 27% pay rise and then cut the amount of work they do (real value for money that one)? Or maybe the NHS isn't working because it appears the Labour strategy when it comes to investing in our hospitals isn't done on a needs basis but on a political basis - giving money to constituencies that are loyal to the Labour party?
This post could go on forever, I fear. Suffice to say, don't blame the people doing the hard work Lord Warner. There are plenty of reasons why the NHS is in such a mess and the root cause of a lot of all of them are the Labour Government's reforms. It's not the doctors and nurses who caused these problems and it's not in their power to sort them out. In the words of a famous football manager to his team after a dismal first half - You got us in to this mess. You get us out of it.