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Beating the blues


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Thursday, 18 August 2016

Beating the blues

No blog this week, as the editor has gone for his annual mini-break at the Blithering Wellbeing Experience, a joint venture between NHS Blithering and Center Parcs. While he soaks up some fairly powerful tranquilisers, he leaves you to wrestle with some of the questions he has been unable to answer in the run-up to the holiday season.

In the Librium-induced spirit of a kinder, gentler blogging, the questions have been submitted by ordinary people. They are reproduced here without the original capital letters.

Is the government trying to privatise the NHS?

Owen from Wales wants to know if the government has a secret plan to sell off the NHS. It’s a great question, Owen.  Who wouldn’t want to put their money into hospitals, general practice, care homes, mental health and other highly-leveraged, low-return businesses? Health is a super-attractive investment opportunity, of course, because everyone needs it and demand just keeps on growing. Add to that a gigantic bureaucracy, an enormous salary bill, loads of fixed costs and multibillion pound PFI debts just begging to be turned into a junk bond market. You may well be on to something, Owen. Have you considered a career in politics?

Why do we have a duty of candour?

Anonymous (no address supplied) asks how the duty of candour will make the NHS safer. Well, Anon, we need to know who to punish when the unthinkable happens and someone tries to cover it up. The new duty is designed to protect the indignant from an unsatisfying lack of public lynchings. Will it improve safety? Clearly not for everyone, but it will make for much greater transparency, which is the next best thing.

Why is it called NHS Improvement?

Jim from the north-east wants to know why he’s been saddled with an organisation with such an ironic name. We know exactly what you mean, Jim. It’s embarrassing for everyone. We can see why you’re not smiling.

What can we do about all the gloom and doom?

Theresa from London has just started a new job and she’s appalled by the defeatist attitude of some junior colleagues. She has made some excellent suggestions for cheering everyone up.

They include “resetting” NHS England, which will be renamed NHS Awesome and tasked with developing a new optimism framework.

So called sustainability and transformation plan (STP) areas are to become “group-hug zones” or “positive mental outlook areas”, each with its own team leader or “collaboration buddy”. A new duty of can-do will make naysaying an offence and a whistler’s charter will guarantee protection for those who try to keep their spirits up, however tuneless or irritating their efforts.

Keep the great ideas coming, Theresa. We feel better already.

Duty editor: Frank Patterson