NHS should be removed from direct government control

June 22, 2006

Only an NHS free of direct government control, managed by an all-party body with clinical and health service experts, will save the NHS from being used as a political football, says a leading public health consultant in this week's BMJ.

Dr Layla Jader, a member of the British Medical Association's Public Health Committee Wales, argues that the NHS has seen valuable resources wasted in "constant structural changes." She proposes that an independent body, made up of those working in the sector and patients - rather than government advisors - is the best hope to sustain an NHS fit for the 21st century.

With an independent management structure, "the pressure of constant media attention and the threat of political retribution - which drive many politicians to short term solutions that won't solve long term problems and mean they never learn from past mistakes - will be eased", says Dr Jader.

The NHS is a huge and complex organisation, and the current modernisation programme makes this the perfect opportunity to reconsider its management structure - however radical a move that may appear. Delegating responsibility for inflation control to the independent Bank of England seemed a similarly ambitious step, but has "greatly contributed to the country's economic stability", argues Dr Jader.

"The NHS is too vital to our future prosperity to be governed by any specific party", says Dr Jader. It needs a system that "replaces political dogma with clinically driven decisions, confrontation with consensus, unaccountability with democracy, and short term decision making with long term stability", she concludes.
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BMJ

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