Asian Lite published a column by Dr Kailash Chand, deputy chair of the BMA council and a GP of 30 years service, challenging the NHS reforms of the coalition government. Here four prominent doctors –Dr Sheo B Tibrewal, Dr Johnson D’souza, Dr Priyada Pandya and Dr Bashir Qureshi – supporting the reforms introduced by the government
As doctors working on the frontline of the NHS, we see the service performing well under increasing demand and whilst making important changes for the future – all underpinned by a strong and growing economy. This is a very different view of the NHS than that of Dr Kailash Chand, writing for this paper recently.
In 2010 there were important changes that needed to be made in the NHS. There were too many managers, and doctors and other clinical staff had too small a role in deciding how the NHS should work. There was too much focus on targets, that sometimes made it hard to do what was best for patients. We saw that at Mid Staffordshire and other hospitals, where patient care, always our highest concern, was not always the central focus.
On top of that, there was real risk to the funding of the NHS – some parties even called for it to be cut. We’d had a deep recession, with many people losing their jobs, and the government spending more than it could afford.
Given that difficult inheritance, where is the NHS now? The Government has actually protected and increased spending on the NHS, which helps the NHS make the changes we need for the future. We recognise that making these changes brings challenges – change always does. But the NHS is dealing with them well to make changes that are in the long-term interest of patients.
We now work alongside more than 9,000 more doctors and 5,000 more nurses than in 2010 – while the number of administrators has fallen by more than 21,000. A new Cancer Drugs Fund has helped over 60,000 people get potentially lifesaving treatments they would not otherwise have received. There is a renewed focus in supporting clinicians to keep patients safe, making sure they are treated with dignity, and if we see things that could be done better, staff are more able to speak up. Scaremongering about so-called ‘privatisation’ has been unfounded. Crucially, decisions about how to spend the majority of the NHS’s budget is now in the hands of clinicians. The NHS is starting to work better with local councils that provide the social care people need as they get older. This needs to continue – and will help more people stay in their own homes, rather than going to hospital.
We know how the NHS needs to change over the next five years – and that doesn’t involve more structural upheaval. The NHS has its own plan for the future – a ‘Five Year Forward View’. This plan will help meet growing demand, give people better access to GPs, improve preventative care, and help GPs and hospitals work together more closely. What we want from government and politicians is the stability to see that plan through, and a strong economy to provide funding for the NHS.
The Government’s changes have helped us see and treat NHS patients in greater numbers than ever. We believe a healthy, well-run economy is essential for the kind of NHS we want. So of all the parties, only the Conservatives have shown they can deliver a strong future for both our economy and NHS.
Mr Sheo B Tibrewal FRCS FICS
Padma Shri Awardee by the President of India.
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon
Hon Senior Lecturer at Guys, Kings & St Thomas Medical School, London, UK
Dr Johnson D’souza
Dr Priyada Pandya
MBBCh MRCP UK
Dr Bashir Qureshi
FRCGP, FRCPCH, FFSRH-RCOG, AFOM-RCP, Hon MAPHA, Hon FRSPH