The NHS: Time For Doctors To Lead The Service

The NHS has attracted a lot of criticism in recent years, as it appears in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The criticism may be justified and help to improve services but it does a disservice to the organisation, as it ignores all of the good done by the NHS and the people who work in it.

Recent patient surveys show that almost 90% of patients think the service they received was good or great; not a perfect record but one that provides a solid platform and cause for hope.

Such surveys highlight the need to improve but the fact that the NHS performs so well in so many areas should, at least, form part of the discussion when it is criticised. Its positive performance should also inform the discussion when change is considered in relation to the future shape and direction of the service.

The NHS was founded in 1948 as a tax-funded service free at the point of use to deliver the best care, everywhere to everyone. It was an enterprising idea at a time of great innovation following the war and has grown to be the world’s largest free healthcare system.

During its lifetime it has delivered excellent care in its hospitals, general practices and in the community and like all organisations has had difficulties and failures.

The core focus of the NHS is the welfare of the patient, which, particularly at times of austerity, must be increasingly balanced with the finite resources of the taxpayer.

Nevertheless, regardless of resources, a number of issues need to be addressed:

  • quality care and affordability need to be reconciled, as the demands of a growing and ageing population stretch human and financial resources to breaking point
  • management of the NHS needs to be clarified; doctors rather than managers need to lead decision making and shape the service
  • greater patient responsibility in managing their health is needed, as the demands on the system are unsustainable in the long-term.

SO, the NHS has served us well for almost 65 years and with the right resources, management and patient responsibility it will do so for another 65.

What do you think? How is your NHS? Get in touch, we would love to hear your views contact Nick on 028 8224 9494 or via Twitter @nick_oec.