Post Election 2015, we are all watching and waiting for the new government has in store for the NHS. Will we be headed in a new direction towards the privatisation of services? or will we be delivering new and improved services..better?
The reality may in fact be that we will be expected to deliver more for less. In particular our students have been a little confused by the 'promise of a 7 day service' for the NHS.
"We already work on Christmas day, all bank holidays and all over the unsociable hours schedule..how can this not be a 7 day service?" They ask.
We already have out of hours services, on call consultants around the clock and weekend/evening services. So what may be on the cards is making what we have already, better in some way. Great - But that comes with a cost.
Local services work to meet the needs of their local populations, and therefore, a blanket policy could waste resources. The demand for a 2am GP appointment will not always be there, and so can we really justify keeping the lights on for the GP waiting for appointments?
Challenges will clearly be apparent when the recruitment drive for such a service will inevitably have to manage part time workers, workers with young families and extensive training times for those entering the service. As the NHS aims to attract these new staff, the threat of cuts to unsociable hours pay is clearly not a welcomed one for those who want flexible working hours and improved rates of pay.
Moving consultants, specialists and teams from one area to another could also affect service quality and staff morale, as those who have established great services become fragmented within a new '7 day service'. Is more change the right way to go?
Ideas have suggested that we reduce the skill mix of staff within the NHS...This may sound like it may save money, but many people doubt that these new changes will leave service quality untouched.
Can £22bn a year really be saved by 2021? How will this affect care?
We will need an extra £30bn a year to keep the lights on in 2020 ...So before we can start talking about a new 'super service' lets talk about getting the basics right and being the best we can be in our current NHS climate.
We will continue to empower future NHS leaders and drivers of innovation to make the NHS work at its best.Our students are unconvinced that this new promise is one based upon 'real world' thinking. Staff may strike if this ideology moves forward.. and there is no denying that such a transformation would cost more...and more worryingly...may affect patient care.
The idea of a seven day service is not a new one, our students already give quality care around the clock. So what is the real 'promise'?... Time will tell... and we will be ready for it.