|Aren't there too many bureaucrats in the NHS?
the needs of patients
The NHS is still run to suit the targets and demands of politicians
and bureaucrats. Whether it is complaints over treatment or
reduced levels of service it is clear the current culture creates
barriers for patients, staff and local communities. The people
who matter are the ones with the least say. But there are simple
steps we can take.
First of all, our health service requires a patients’
champion, someone who will act in the interest of patients
at all times. We will replace NHS Quality Improvement Scotland
with a National Health Inspectorate, independent of government,
to do this job. It will conduct regular inspections of general
standards within hospitals, including cleanliness, hygiene,
nutrition, standards of accommodation, fabric of buildings,
and the general environment for patients and make clear recommendations
Under the SNP, patients will come before profits. We will
bring all hospital cleaning contracts back in-house to the
NHS. Too many of our hospitals don’t meet acceptable
hygiene standards and too many patients pick up life threatening
infections while in hospital.
We will introduce a new Code of Practice for Health Boards
to govern the way they inform patients when mistakes occur,
and bring greater democracy through a directly elected element
to Health Boards and Local Health Care Co-operatives.
We will make local health councils independent of the NHS
and create a statutory independent patient body at national
level to serve as the ‘voice of the patient’.
While we believe in the local delivery of health care, we
will not tolerate postcode prescription. It is not acceptable
for someone living in one Health Board area to access a drug,
while someone in a neighbouring Health Board cannot. Therefore
we will take steps to ensure that drugs which are deemed clinically
effective are accessed equitably across the country.
Getting the structure right
There are also some vital structural reforms to undertake
which will strengthen the delivery of healthcare nationwide.
We want to simplify the structure and create a more accountable
and transparent service, with devolved powers to allow communities
to shape services according to their needs.
As first steps in that process, we will introduce three key
reforms. We will introduce early legislation to abolish health
trusts. We will review the number of Health Boards and we
will give the remaining boards the lead role in strategic
planning, budget holding and commissioning of services. And
we will strengthen Local Health Care Co-operatives, by requiring
Health Boards to devolve budgets and commissioning powers.
The SNP will also establish a National Healthcare Commission,
chaired by the Health Minister, and comprising a range of
professional and patient interests appointed by Parliament.
The job of the Commission will be to advise the Health Minister
on the strategic direction of the NHS, and to subject the
decisions of government to the kind of rigorous scrutiny that
can only come from people who know, from experience, what
works in the real world of health care.
Those who know best what is needed in the health service
are those who work at its sharp end, and those who use its
services. These voices need to be heard much more loudly when
decisions are being taken.
Taken together our plans offer a new direction for the NHS
in Scotland. A direction where patients and staff come first.
And where your priorities are the priorities of our government.