The people’s NHS?
In the coalition government’s recent white paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, it sets out a new way forward for the NHS for patients. It promises to strengthen the collective voice of patients and the public through provision led by local authorities and, at national level, through a powerful new commission. It assures us that it will seek to ensure that everyone, whatever their need or background, benefits from these plans.
The reforms also commit to empowering professionals and providers, giving them more autonomy, but also making them more accountable for the results they achieve. One of the key motives behind these reforms is to introduce greater local democratic accountability into the NHS and remove central political influence from decision-making.
But how prepared are we to take on these new roles? How can we ensure that those who take on this responsibility are truly representative, and how can we train people to have the ability to provide challenge where health service performance is less than adequate?