Filed Under (Francis Report, Uncategorized) by Paul on 06-02-2013
The Francis report is published today. Nowadays even the most sensitive legal documents are heavily leaked – with the Guardian seemingly having a copy on its front page last week. However despite the leaks it’s always best to wait for publication before commenting on the actual content.
I want to make some wider points here. These have occurred to me whilst looking at the press preparing for Francis. It is already clear that a number of newspapers will construct from the findings an analysis that chimes with their fundamental hatred for the basic principles of the NHS.
Both the Sunday Times and the Telegraph believe that the NHS just shouldn’t be. They are not just opposed to the basic principle of a tax funded system with equal access for all, but believe it should not and, in some ways cannot, exist. Its basic principles are offensive to the forces that make their world spin on its axis.
For a few years now they have been bewildered as support for these principles within the middle class has grown stronger and stronger (at the last election the strongest ever).
They have been puzzled by the Conservative Party’s decision to make army personnel redundant rather than cut NHS resources.
They will have fumed about the opening ceremony at the Olympics since they see the NHS as the worst rather than the best of the country, and therefore not worthy of celebration. But the enjoyment of the vast majority of the public of a ceremony that linked the NHS to modern ‘Britishness’ has made clear to those who hate the NHS what they really are – a small minority.
So for this small minority Francis will provide a critique of the very soul of the NHS. It will confirm for them the fact that the NHS is a bureaucracy that cannot care for a million people in consultations every 36 hours.
The main thing to do for those of us that care for the NHS to do is to ignore the attack of these few and concentrate on how quickly the NHS can learn from what went so wrong in Mid-Staffs.
I have always believed that the NHS is a very strong organisation – one that can learn how to care better from as wide a range of lessons as possible. Some others – also, I admit, friends of the NHS – want to keep the whole structure as it has always been. Personally I have always felt that this approach regards the NHS as being much more fragile than it is.
As a strong organisation with deep roots bedded in a belief of who we are as a country, it has the strength to look very closely at what it is and how it operates. And with that strength it can change through learning.
So despite what a few embittered right-wingers may say, Francis is NOT an attack upon the basic principles of the NHS. It’s important that we don’t react to it in that way – because that is not what it is. It is an attack (correctly) upon some appalling practices that took place within those principles.
The NHS will be able to learn these very difficult lessons and improve the way in which universal socialised medicine works for us all.