Saturday, April 23, 2011

David Cameron vs The NHS

At the beginning of his keynote speech on public services in January, David Cameron insisted that he "wants to do right by NHS staff", in many other speeches he has hailed the NHS as a wonderful fact of British life, and has even underlined his family's own reliance on it. In short, he has bent over backwards to show he is a man in whose hands the NHS is indeed safe, as he promised during the run of the elections.

After the election safely out of the way, he introduced the NHS reforms and set himself at war with the NHS staff, and ignored the leaders of a range of professional organisations and trade unions, that have made it clear that they consider the proposed NHS changes "extremely risky and potentially disastrous".

If that was not enough, the “once before the elections devoted fan of the NHS” referred to its service as a "second-rate” and “poor” one, and had the impertinence to describe the Tory’s "reform" as a reorganisation from the "bottom up" as a witty note in another of his speeches. This ‘joke’, even if intended to amuse the public, came of a really poor taste in a time when many people’s jobs and health are at risk.

I have seen with deep concerns every time I read articles on how the NHS levels of patient’s satisfaction have plummeted during this year, and how when in a time when they are attempting to cut jobs to make savings they are on the other hand paying millions in compensation to patients that have been severely affected by negligence, incompetence, excessive waiting times and lack of staff.

I have seen how multiple political figures and professionals have criticised David Cameron’s policies for being arrogant in recognising they might be potentially and disastrously wrong, and for taking a gamble on public’s health. As in the words of Diane Abbott in her article “NHS changes: David Cameron's dodgy prescription” (The Guardian, 2011) “It is becoming clearer by the day that Tory "reform" is not about improving the NHS, but reshaping the service to drive forward a marketisation agenda. They are designed to meet the political objectives of a Tory-led government. And all Cameron's warm words will not disguise this”.

Proofs this has been more about pursuing a political agenda than the public’s interest have been the embarrassing and desperate U–turns on decisions made by the Tory’s leader, after the Labour is surging ahead in the polls.

It seems like the Prime Minister is PR conscious after all, and has realised if he goes ahead with all this current dramatic and severe reforms in such a short timeframe, he could be not elected in the next elections.

In my own personal opinion I believe the NHS needs changes, and needs to be made more efficient. Limited and regulated competition could offer choices to people, and opportunities for a better value for money service. However, the people at NHS need to be listened to, need to be taken into account to come up with a reform, that acts in the benefit of all and not the Tory’s political agenda. As for David Cameron, if he still wants to go ahead with this reform, he is going to be in great need of a PR offensive campaign “in order to 'salvage the Tories' reputation' on the NHS and prevent the first casualty of his Government” (Fine cited in PRWeek 2011).

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more. The NHS reputation is not only in need of PR work but is also in need of sound reforms that would benefit the general public.
    The state monopoly they run nowadays, has gone from being one of the most respected British institutions to become a poor health service that does not cope with demand, that is badly managed (as many public institutions), and where despite of the huge contributions one makes every month, one has to put up with poor and negligent service. Do not take me wrong, people that work at it are true heroes, but bad management and poor reforms from one government to the other, and bad planned cuts to something that is essential such as the health service, has got the NHS in such a really bad shape that something needs to be done urgently, either to it, or to bring more alternatives on board.
    As for David Cameron, he is not only in need of PR, but also in need of political maturity and sound work and planning before making decisions if they want to still keep their reputation alive. They are not only making everything harder for the least wealth off, and for people that wants to get into education to prosper, but they are also making abrupt and not well thought out decisions on which they are then doing U-Turns,... that is not only embarrassing and laughable, but has been losing them the faith on them of many voters, as they do not seem to know for sure where they are heading to... Some PR First AID for Cameron please!