Friday, 5 July 2013

Happy Birthday NHS!

My Twitter has been full of #NHS65 tweets with a range of emotions and sentiments. We all know the NHS has issues, but I also think it is equally important to step back from all the headlines and look at what we have to be thankful - and a 65yr birthday seems an appropriate time!

I wouldn't be doing what I do today if the NHS didn't exist for two reasons. I probably wouldn't be alive for starters. There is no doubt that if I had had to pay directly for the MRI scans and treatments, I wouldn't have reached my 24th birthday earlier this week. But I'm not just alive today, I am actively working to improve health care in this country (in a few different ways!). Although I have had some excellent clinical care, the experience has been mixed, from brilliant to horrendous. We know the NHS is capable of getting it right - but I want to see that the norm. I have managed because of luck to some degree - finding counsellors privately for example - but it shouldn't come down to luck, and should be an intrinsic part of the design of the system. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to see the most wonderful neuro-physiotherapist and use a brilliant orthotics department. The NHS staff have shown me the very best of humanity.
It's not all rosy through - either in the way services are delivered or the way they are designed, or in the role that patients like me can play both at the individual and collective level. Considering the society into which the NHS was born, this new philosophy of co-production is quite a departure. Old habits die hard. But looking at the list of firsts the NHS has achieved in Roy Lilley's blog today, you realise that the NHS is one of the best adopters (and developers!) of new clinical practice. Can we make it a leading adopter of co-production and patient leadership? When Rilley talks about us being able to change our own little bit of the NHS I think he was aiming that at safe, but I think it applies to patients too! 

Here's hoping that patient leaders and true and meaningful co-production is going to be one the defining cornerstones of the NHS in its next stage of life. At the individual level and the collective level, patients taking more responsibility for their conditions and services must be part of the solution to keep our NHS sustainable. 

This was the biggest downfall of Nuffield Trust's Wisdom of the 
Crowd: 65 views on the NHS at 65 - there were no patients in that crowd. This has been picked up by a number of people on Twitter....


... And some people have gone one step further, and are developing a new version of the report, collecting the views of 65 people who either directly give or receive care - a brilliant idea and hosted on Grassroots GP.

Despite some of the issues, I want to thank the NHS for everything it has done for me and my family. The reason I am now working in this area is because I feel that the NHS is such a precious resource, something we can't afford to loose, and something worth working to improve.

My birthday present to the NHS? Me effectively self-managing, and me as a patient leader! My little way of helping my little bit of the NHS. 

Happy Birthday NHS, and thank you! 
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