NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said the health service needed to build a new partnership with the public to ensure there is full debate and scrutiny before decisions are made on further reforms.
He warns politicians they cannot vote to back limits on NHS spending and then resist changes to improve value for money, calling on them to inform the public how changes to services can benefit them, “not just lead marches to oppose them”.
His comments come as health chiefs in Yorkshire put the finishing touches to plans which are expected to trigger unprecedented changes to services for 1.5 million people in the region as similar plans are hatched around the country which will see hospital services axed and care transferred into the community. These changes have already created controversy, leading to a protest march led by Foreign Secretary William Hague. Mr. Farrar adds that leaders should provide the public with a better explanation of these changes.
He said the NHS should be ready to applaud politicians who challenge public opposition to service changes in their areas where the evidence showed they would deliver better outcomes, adding that 2013 will be another tough year for the NHS.
These changes are fundamental to ensure that UK’s health service improves in the long term! It is necessary to modernise how the NHS delivers care, where it provides and when patients can access it.
“NHS leaders know that a fundamental overhaul is necessary to make our health service fit for the future. At present, many people are fearful of change because we have not involved them in conversations about how services can be improved by reorganising how and where they are delivered. We know we can improve many of the routine services that patients receive so they can be provided at home or closer to home. Not only will this help relieve the growing pressure on our hospitals, but it will help people retain their independence and still be part of their local community. This is not a cost-cutting exercise, although if we get it right it could help reduce costs in the future. This is about delivering the high quality that will give people access to the best care when they need it”, says Mr. Farrar.
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