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Stop scaremongering about NHS, urge commissioning leaders

It frightens patients, demoralises staff; let’s focus instead on getting on with improvements

Caroline White

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

It’s time to stop frightening patients and demoralising staff by scaremongering about the NHS, say commissioning leaders. The focus should, instead, be on how services for patients are going to be improved next year, they say.

In a rallying cry, issued today, the co-chairs of the NHS Clinical Commissioners Leadership Group, a consortium of the National Association of Primary Care, the NHS Alliance, and the NHS Confederation, warn that there has been far too much “persistent scaremongering,” to the detriment of patient care.

A more positive outlook is needed for 2014, say Drs Steve Kell and Amanda Doyle as the constant carping and attempts to use the NHS as a political pawn merely undermine “hardworking staff”, worry patients needlessly, and ignore the generally strong performance of the health service, overall.

NHS Clinical Commissioners, which represents 75% of CCGs across England, says that these groups are working hard to improve local services, and must be given the space to succeed.

“During 2013, there has been persistent scaremongering and criticism of the NHS in the media and by politicians, which is not helpful,” said Kell.

“We know the health service needs to change. However, there is a natural tendency to focus on the negative. But what we rarely hear about is when things go well. And the NHS does lots of things extremely well,” he added.

He called for 2014 to start on a more positive note. “We feel at the moment the NHS is being used as a political pawn,” he said. This gave a distorted view of what the NHS was actually managing to achieve.

“Clinical commissioners are working hard to improve local services by making responsible clinically led decisions in partnership with GPs, patients, and providers. We are already seeing significant progress in transparency, clinical outcomes, and patient empowerment,” he suggested.

Dr Doyle added that it was essential that commissioners were given the freedom to succeed.

“While the recent national debates regarding ambulances and urgent care services are important, these must be balanced fairly with what is happening locally,” she said. “Clinicians should be free to work with patients to determine what local services are needed.”

She continued: “Clinically led decision making, based on local engagement and local patient need, is essential if we are to meet the challenges facing the NHS. Everyone needs to stop all the negativity and work together so that we can continue to provide the excellent service patients want and need.”

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