Tom Richmond: Give patients and carers power to cure sick NHS

Chancellor Philip Hammond is under pressure to make more money available for hospitals
Chancellor Philip Hammond is under pressure to make more money available for hospitals
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OF all the admissions of NHS policy failure, perhaps the most astonishing came earlier this week when chief executive Simon Stevens suggested that many health managers are simply not up to the job.

He’s right. Even though NHS England, based in Leeds, appears to put career bureaucrats before the recruitment of sufficient doctors and nurses, a chronic shortage of leadership is self-evident as hospitals lurch from one crisis to another.

It can’t continue like this as Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, comes under pressure to make more money available for hospitals, and social care policy, in next week’s pivotal Autumn Statement.

Yet, while the case for additional resources to improve the support available to frail and vulnerable senior citizens is overwhelming, this money will just be frittered away unless senior NHS and public health executives are scrutinised more effectively.

This necessity was made even more urgent in a House of Lords debate on carers – the unsung heroes of Great Britain – when Lord Prior of Brampton, a junior health Minister, spoke.

He said: “When half of carers say that they feel that a hospital admission could have been avoided or that the discharge could have been easier if only there had been better communication, that is clearly a critical area.”

At a time when bed shortages are impinging upon A&E admissions, the need for a joined-up health policy, with a closer correlation between hospitals and community care providers, has never been greater. The problem is implementing this diagnosis when the NHS, the most bureaucratically top-heavy organisation in the country, does not have the necessary expertise.

The remedy? Recruit teams of plain-speaking patients and carers to oversee hospitals and care organisations. After all, these people know far more about what works – and what does not – from personal experience than your typical NHS bureaucrat.

Furthermore, they would only be too happy to give something back to the NHS – and only the most ineffective managers would have anything to fear. Over to you, Mr Stevens.

HILARY Benn’s constituency party in Leeds Central is not the only one to be hijacked by ultra left-wing supporters of Jeremy Corbyn. This is happening across the country where experienced and respected MPs are being undermined.

These are worrying times if a respected former foreign affairs spokesman is no longer welcome in his party. Even if Mr Corbyn stood down before the next election, he has sufficient activists in place to skew the selection and de-selection of candidates to ensure that Labour continues to pursue an uncompromising socialist agenda.

With Mr Corbyn on the brink of lifting the ban on those Militant activists banned from Labour in the 1980s, these are worrying times for all those who believe that good government depends on the biggest Opposition party being competent and credible.

I’M afraid the hypocrisy of the sanctimonious Liberal Democrats is limitless. Still in denial about the June 23 Brexit vote, and with its eight MPs having negligible influence in the Commons, its 100-plus unelected peers in the House of Lords are being deployed to thwart Theresa May’s strategy at every turn.

Given the Lib Dems previously favoured a fully elected Upper House, this shabby opportunism smacks of double standards. Perhaps someone will enlighten the country on the party’s current stance on constitutional reform.

TALKING of the House of Lords, Tory peer and composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber claims he’s fed up at being told by party whips how to vote because he does not follow politics sufficiently closely.

“I was put in as an honour, not as a working peer. Not as lobby fodder. I’m fed up with the fact that I keep being asked now to go in and vote for things about which I don’t have knowledge,” says the Lord who voted just 34 times in 18 years.

Yet, given he was savvy enough to ‘persuade’ US President-elect Donald Trump not to attend the opening night of his Broadway musical, School Of Rock, the time has surely come for more fundamental Lords reform rather than simply recruiting more peers to suit the ruling government.

The problem is that any reform will never be approved by peers because they like all the power and none of the accountability.

THE House of Commons resumed at 2.30pm on Monday after sitting for just two days the previous week. The last debate finished at 8.18pm. At 8.47pm Speaker John Bercow was shown on TV courtside at the Andy Murray match at the end of season tennis ATP World Tour Final. Priorities?

ARE there no weather forecasters in Yorkshire any more? When Look North’s Paul Hudson is missing in action, he seems to be replaced by Owain Wyn Evans from deepest Wales. I’ve nothing against the chap, but isn’t there anyone from these parts better informed about the vagaries of the local climate?

THANK you Andrew Marr for prima facie evidence of the BBC’s Metropolitan bias. Interviewing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn about Brexit, immigration and the economy, the presenter referred to the impact on the ‘North Coast’? Unless I missed the Shetlands becoming the new Northern Powerhouse, I suggest the condescending Marr spends a bit less time in London.

IF learner drivers actually learned how to read a map, and were taught road sense, they wouldn’t be so dependent on their mobile phone, and their attention distracted, when they do get behind the wheel.

tom.richmond@ypn.co.uk