UNISON has welcomed the government’s assurances over future NHS reform as a helpful blueprint for handling change.
Health minister Lord Darzi’s interim report in October called for polyclinics – super surgeries where GPs work alongside social care staff, hospital teams and nurses – to be set up across the country.
But today he promised there would be no change simply for change’s sake, pledging that future reforms would always be to the benefit of patients, would be clinically driven and locally led, would involve NHS users, and that existing services would not be withdrawn until new ones were in place.
UNISON has always called for change to be evidence based and that comes through strongly in the five pledges, said head of health Karen Jennings in response. “The recognition that change should be driven by the desire to raise quality and to meet the needs of local patients and staff, and not by cost or politics is a very welcome one.”
However, she raised fears that change would open the doors of the health service to more private companies.
“When the final report is published, we want an NHS that is fit for the next 10 years, not one that would be split by the private sector ethos of competition and profit,” she warned.
Lord Darzi’s final report is due to be published in full next month, to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the NHS.
He said it would focus on how the government can enable local clinicians and patients to be the driving force of improvement and change, adding: “Empowered patients and empowered staff are the key to world-class standards.”