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Matt Hancock’s diary: My next big idea

 
Friday, 9 November 2018

Matt Hancock’s diary: My next big idea

I’ve been mulling over what’s wrong with the NHS. I spotted straight away that NHS tech is rubbish – and I’m not afraid to say so. It can all be fixed with genomics, apps and robots. I’m already on the case.

The other big problem is patients.

Old people are the worst offenders. The oldest ones consume about two-thirds of the NHS budget, which is shocking when you think about it. You’d think they’d know better at their age.

So I try out my latest policy idea on Lucinda. She’s not impressed. “Preventing older people” is catchy, she agrees, but could cause problems in the Conservative heartlands.

I point out that old people and ageing in general are the biggest causes of rising NHS costs.

Lucinda agrees with my focus on decisive steps but is less sure about the old people angle, which still needs work, she says. Lucinda doesn’t always see the big picture as clearly as I do.

Preventive thinking

Later it hits me. What if we could stop people getting ill altogether? The savings would be immense. Why has no one thought of this before?

I have five minutes before Stevens turns up to tell me how he’s getting on with my plan, so I use the time to scribble a few notes on the back of a begging letter from the RCGP.

When Stevens ambles in I tell him about my idea. I’m calling it my "prevention is better than cure" strategy.

He looks amused, but perhaps smirking is his way of showing excitement. Odd fellow, Stevens.

Anyway, he agrees that we should make it part of the plan.

I explain how prevention would work. If a smoker ended up in hospital, for instance, staff would be encouraged to hide his cigarettes and wouldn’t let him leave until he agreed to give up.

More facial contortions and a bout of coughing from Stevens. I wonder if he’s a secret smoker.

Smoked out

When he finally composes himself, Stevens tries to get in on my new idea, which I’m thinking of calling “public health”.

“It might be better if we stopped people from taking up smoking in the first place,” he says.

I hear this sort of thing from NHS types all the time. Completely impractical and just what you’d expect from people who have never had proper jobs.

I ask Stevens when I’ll see a first draft of my plan.

Before he can think of an excuse, Lucinda appears with his coat. A relieved looking Stevens slopes off into the night, probably in search of a tobacconist.

Diary editor: Julian Patterson

@jtweeterson
julian.patterson@networks.nhs.uk

 
Hilary Andrews
Hilary Andrews says:
Nov 12, 2018 11:20 AM

I love these updates from NHS Blithering and the Dept of Health - please keep them coming! A bit of sunshine in my inbox every week.