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The NHS is in need of some radical treatment

15th May 2008

Writing in The Guardian, Jack Stilgoe says patients and doctors need to be given the space to work together to improve long-term health.

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Health minister Ben Bradshaw is attempting to justify extending GP access at a time that the NHS is in need of radical treatment on the eve of its 60th birthday.

Those GPs, however, feel they are fronting an “increasingly untrustworthy system�, one that Derek Wanless warned Labour in 2002 that would be bankrupted by growing demand and dependency unless it had a radical re-think of the way it related to people.

But the government still treats patients as consumers, while the NHS buries itself in targets and financial contracts.

Medical professionals know its time to rethink their social contract with patients, but the NHS and doctors of the future must acknowledge patients as experts in their own illnesses.

Against this backdrop is Lord Darzi’s is reviewing the NHS from the top down and reorganising groups of professionals rather than from the bottom up with doctors and patients “given the space to have real conversations that are open and transparent.�

With patients having personal budgets they also need the scope to create a care plan that meets their needs. In addition, the electronic records they will soon be able to see should be accessible with patients able to contribute as well as read them.

Doctors tell us the era of paternalism has gone, that “Dr Finlay is dead�, though a government that remains determined to continue to exert paternal control over all parts of the NHS is not good for long-term health.

 

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