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NHS England’s Medical Director’s challenge to NHS staff, industry leaders and politicians

NHS England’s Medical Director has challenged patients, NHS staff, industry leaders and politicians to radically change the way they deal with healthcare services.

Making the first key speech of the NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh said everyone involved in the NHS had to play their part in making sure the service can deal with the “quadruple pincer” of difficult increasing demand, escalating costs, a tightened fiscal environment and increasing patient expectations.

Looking back to the establishment of the NHS in the aftermath of the Second World War, Sir Bruce said the current difficult times, if handled in the right way, could herald a new era of innovation and development. He reminded representatives from right across the health and social care sector of England’s unique environment supporting science and innovation, fostering more than twice as many Nobel prizes for Medicine and Physiology per capita in this country than anywhere else in the world.

Sir Bruce said: “To patients, I say be more confident and more assertive – do your research, don’t be shy to ask questions and, crucially, don’t be shy to take charge.

“To front-line clinical and managerial staff, I say please, do not aspire to mediocrity. I hear people talk about meeting the European average. I have no interest in meeting the European average and I hope you don’t either. We need to always aspire to excellence and must not be constrained to the normal, the usual, the middle of the pack.

“Push the boundaries. Do not ignore cost, but seek value because it is through value that we will acquire the best possible treatment for everyone. Show courage, and give each other permission to try new things. Take risks with processes, but not with clinical outcomes. And through all of this, help turn taxpayers’ money into good clinical outcomes.

Sir Bruce called on industry leaders to do business in the UK, hailing low corporation tax that reduces further for profits earned on UK international patents and gives significant tax rebate for research expenditure as  “remarkable incentive” for innovation.

He challenged politicians to develop policies that “unleash rather than constrain” the intellectual capital of the NHS’s 1.4 million staff.

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One comment

  1. Michael Child says:

    “To front-line clinical and managerial staff, I say please, do not aspire to mediocrity. I hear people talk about meeting the European average. I have no interest in meeting the European average and I hope you don’t either. We need to always aspire to excellence and must not be constrained to the normal, the usual, the middle of the pack.

    “Push the boundaries. Do not ignore cost, but seek value because it is through value that we will acquire the best possible treatment for everyone. Show courage, and give each other permission to try new things. Take risks with processes, but not with clinical outcomes. And through all of this, help turn taxpayers’ money into good clinical outcomes.”

    For the last three years on the Wirral I have aspired to do exactly what it says on the tin above.
    I have looked at existing systems and questioned their efficacy and reliability and proposed improvements and modifications.
    The legions of support staff who wallow in comfortable mediocrity and resist any change, even when they themselves might benefit, see any outside proposals as threats or criticism.
    For some reason there is a fear of acknowledging that a system developed 10 or 15 years earlier may need to be updated.
    Conversely, spending ridiculous amounts of money on anything with ‘i-phone’ or ‘app’ associated with it seems to absorb budgets without any real cost benefit analysis compared with simpler and even free systems using existing facilities.
    When support staff use the argument ‘This is the NHS, just do what you have been told’ as a reason for implementing poor systems, the will to live soon disappears and mediocrity wins again.
    Is this just a local issue do all areas suffer the same attitudes?