Minister of Health talks to patients' representatives, before health professionals

Andrew Lansley
Image by conservativeparty via Flickr

Secretary State for Health’s first speech is to patients’ representatives

To emphasise his promise of putting patients first, Andrew Lansley chose to make his first official speech to an audience composed of representatives of The Patients’ Association and National Voices.

And he spoke at The Bromley-by-Bow Centre, not an NHS hospital.

The Patients’ Association welcomed the promise of the Secretary of State to focus every element of the National Health Service on the patient.  As Director Katherine Murphy commented, “By hosting the meeting, the Patients Association is bringing to the table the views of the thousands of patients who ….  feel they are viewed as no more than a token add-on”.

Lansley first speech set him head-to-head with one of Lord Darzi’s (previous Government Minister) favourite projects  – to get patients discharged from hospital more quickly.

Ever since the previous Government tried to cut costs by speeding up patients’ discharge from hospital, critics have warned that this was building up problems.  Now, if patients are discharged too early and have to return for treatment of the original condition within one month, the hospital will be ‘fined’:  Lansley threatening they won’t get paid.

In theory this a good idea, but someone is going to have to pay for the medical attention, bed space, food and drugs that patients will use – details are hazy on who will pay – and how.  In reality the NHS will pick up the bill however it is charged – but it is good to know that you won’t be kicked out because your bed is needed.

Lansley promised

  • To put patient safety first
  • Unleash ‘meaningful information to patients’
  • Focuss on quality, innovation, productivity and safety required to improve patient outcomes
  • Hospitals are resposible for patients’ care for 30 days after they are discharged
  • Set NHS professionals free from targets and the bureaucratic system “that compromises patient care”
  • To assure patients “No decision is made about me, without me”

and said, “my ambition is for health outcomes and health services to be as good as any in the world”.

He then went on to show that he had obviously taken on board lessons learnt whilst he was Shadow Health Minister for six years,” the previous government’s bureaucratic approach of perpetual interference… has failed patients, and left us lagging behind our European counterparts on outcomes that matter to patients, such as how long they will survive after a cancer diagnosis”.

It remains to be seen if he is able to change the bureaucratic system that is in place today.  I have just phoned the local PCT to see if they can tell me if approval has been granted for Lymphoedema treatment, only to be told as the patient I am not entitled to be told – I have to wait until the doctor returns from holiday.

Secretary of State, get your skates on!  You have a mountain of bureaucracy to challenge and alter, but good luck to you if you manage to change even one tenth of this.

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