As I was listening to the news this morning, I was dismayed to hear yet again negative press about our hardworking NHS. It’s not perfect, but it is full of extremely dedicated, hardworking people trying to do their best but constantly being beaten by both sides. The press and public hound them because waiting lists are unacceptably long and sometimes care is less than perfect; the powers that be penalise them for costing too much.
Perhaps we have set unrealistic expectations for the service whilst expecting them to manage on resources based on historic data.
It’s as though you’re planning to throw a lavish party for all your friends, neighbours, work colleagues and everyone you’re connected to on social media but using a budget drawn up several years ago when you were existing on beans on toast and had 5 friends!
Do we need a Plan A?
I’m not advocating we throw money at the National Health Service, but perhaps, instead of basing decisions on current activity and operational expectations, we should follow Marks and Spencer’s example and prepare a ‘Plan A’.
Instead of resting on our laurels, congratulating ourselves on all the wonderful things we are doing now, we should be developing a plan to protect all the things we as a community or business can’t survive without.
Marks and Spencer have identified 5 key things they wouldn’t be able to survive without. A healthy environment, a healthy workforce, a healthy customer base, a healthy profit and a healthy reputation. All their business decisions have to support one or more of these aspirations, and it would seem that this could be a great blueprint for all sorts of businesses, including the NHS.
Environmental, Social and Financial Risk Assessment
I encourage businesses to create a Corporate Social Responsibility statement so that they can understand where they are at the moment. However, I now go beyond this to explore what environmental, social and financial risks there might be to the company in the future and how we can mitigate this.
It’s a sort of risk assessment, but really encourages creative thinking and ensures that the business is constantly monitoring future threats and opportunities to understand how it needs to respond and adapt.
In my mind, the NHS is an amazing institution, but it’s trying to be all things to all people and it’s not equipped for that. We expect a service that was set up in a very different world with different standards and expectations, and massively different financial requirements.
NHS budgets today are based on historical figures. However, with an ageing population and increasing levels of ill health, both physical and mental, even last year’s figures are out of date, and we should be planning what we can afford to do for the future.
Can we continue to expect cradle to grave care?
I would suggest, possibly controversially, that we can’t continue to offer cradle to grave wrap around healthcare, free at source, to everyone. We must decide what elements we need to protect and how else we can deliver high levels of healthcare at an affordable level for everyone.
We need a Plan A, not only for the NHS, but also for us, for our healthcare. What can’t we live without and how do we go about providing that.