Our NHS Doesn’t Get The Credit It Deserves.

Stop kicking our NHS. That’s my message to politicians this election campaign. From the 10 o’clock news to the pages of The Gazette, some politicians are using the NHS as a political football while ignoring the facts and the great work most NHS staff do.

Let’s look at the facts. NHS England is among the best healthcare systems in the world. In a recent survey by The Commonwealth Fund we rank number 1 in the world with Switzerland 2nd and Sweden 3rd. When it comes to value for money, you’ll do well to find any other healthcare system that delivers so much for so little. We live longer than many countries. If we are badly hurt or desperately ill we ALL get seen as quickly as practically possible. 9 ½ times out of ten, even if we have only broken a finger or fell over in a drunken stupor, we still get seen in less than 4 hours.

Yet judging by the headline grabbing comments made by politicians you’d think we have one of the worst healthcare systems in the world.

I have worked in and used healthcare systems all over the globe. Here in Amazingstoke we are lucky enough to live in one of the best run healthcare eco-systems anywhere. Our hospital is staffed by world renowned clinicians and has a world class management team. Rarely do you hear people complain about the quality of care they receive from the hospitals’ Doctors and nurses, while our GPs are among the more progressive and well ranked in the country. If we choose to use a private hospital, the same Doctors that work in our NHS hospitals are also able to care for you in high quality private hospitals around the region.

All of this costs us about £2,000 per person per year. The US spend more than twice that per head, the French 20% more, the Germans nearly 30% more, Sweden 15% more and the Swiss 60% more.

Sure our cancer survival rates can improve. We need to improve the accessibility and effectiveness of GP clinics and provide better integration between primary care, community and social care and hospitals. We certainly need to do a better job of helping those suffering from mental illness.

None of this need be too difficult if the politicians stopped point scoring and scare mongering by throwing the word ‘privatisation’ around. Over 50% of the NHS budget is already spent with private companies, and a significant portion always has been. The drugs that have eradicated some disease and significantly improved the chances of getting better from most that ails us are developed by private pharmaceutical companies. Our GPs are privately run businesses as are most of our mental healthcare services.

Yet some politicians scream about the dangers of privatisation and point at what happens in the US. Guess what, about 50% of the US healthcare system is run by public sector organisations!

It should not matter who provides the service as long as the care they provide is effective, efficient and safe; and it is entirely possible to ensure that unreasonable profits are not made at our expense.

So please, to all those politicians that want to score points at the expense of one of the best healthcare systems in the world, have some perspective and look at the facts first. By all means engage in a debate about ideas to improve the care and service, while ensuring it is affordable for all. But please don’t pretend the system is broken and the fault is the private sector or a desperate lack of money.

It isn’t. In fact, it’s really very good. Here in Amazingstoke it is among the best in the country, and in some cases in the world!

Good Government.

It strikes me that putting political policies, values and beliefs to one side for a minute; the one thing any Resident should expect from any administration is that they run a competent and efficient local Council. The story in today’s paper about another set of public sector leaders taking significant redundancy payments and then returning to their previous employer as well paid consultants is a perfect example of incompetence and a self-serving culture that still permeates many public sector organisations.

I’m delighted to see that BDBC is not one of those. Other than my well publicised concerns about the management of planning policies and practice, I think we are fortunate to live in a very well run Borough. I’m even pleased to say that under the current leadership, the Planning team has also upped its game.

The old Chief Executive ran a tight ship, and in the last 6 years under the Tory Administration, Basingstoke Residents  clearly believe that Council performance has improved. Ratings for ‘Delivering value for money’ are up from 43% to 71%, ‘Feeling happy with the way the council is run’ from 58% to 84% and ‘Being Happy living in your local area’ from 87% to 96%.

We have a new Chief Executive joining, Melbourne Barrett. It looks like we have recruited an impressive and competent professional. Its a shame that I haven’t noticed all the local political leaders come out and endorse his appointment. When a new CEO joins a team it is imperative that he has the backing of the organisation’s Board & Leadership. I see the role of the elected Members to act as a ‘Board’ and ensure the paid Officers and Council Workers deliver the programmes the Board was elected to execute, and ensure value for money and accountability. The Board/Members and the Council Officers serve at the pleasure and service of the residents; who have the right above all else to expect competence, efficiency and integrity across the depth and breadth of the Council.