Dr Michael Dixon, chair, NHS Alliance, tells politicians to back off from using the NHS as a political football
Speaking at the Westminster Health Forum today, Dr Michael Dixon, chairman of the NHS Alliance, will say to clinicians and policy makers that radical change in the NHS is necessary, but it requires politicians and the media to play their part, and stop using the NHS as a political football.
The NHS has been in the eye of the media storm as never before in the winter of 2014/15, but new research from YouGov, commissioned by NHS Alliance, the leading voice for provider organisations across primary care, reveals that public trust in our national health service remains stable
Polls from the past few weeks show that the public view the NHS as the most important issue to be covered in the news ahead of the election – while the British Social Attitudes research shows that before the winter crisis, public satisfaction with the NHS was stable.
Meanwhile the NHS Alliance’s annual Temperature Check shows that the public has faith in the NHS to look after them when ill is even higher – despite the winter A&E crisis and continued negative media coverage of missed targets throughout December and January.
Even with the barrage of negative media coverage the NHS has received this winter, this year’s statistics show that 73 per cent of people trust the NHS to look after them when they are ill. And, when asked if they trust the NHS the same or more than this time last year, 60 per cent of respondents responded positively. This has shown little change since January 2014.
While 74 per cent of people, according to the BBC poll, believe that it is very important that the NHS receives media coverage in the run up to the general election, NHS Alliance’s Temperature Check poll also reveals that the public’s confidence in the media and politicians to convey an accurate portrayal of the NHS is exceptionally low. The results show that only 7 per cent of the public believe politicians portray a balanced picture of the NHS, regardless of political party, and only 13 per cent of the population believe that the media portray a balanced picture of the NHS.
Dr Michael Dixon, chair, NHS Alliance said: “While it is reassuring that the public still trusts the NHS to look after them, and that this hasn’t wavered despite the tsunami of negative media coverage around the NHS and its failure to meet targets, it is important that we act on the challenges the NHS currently faces and do all we can to change the perception of the one in four who lack confidence in the service.
“In order to address these challenges, politicians must stop using the NHS as a political football, and start talking about the solutions to the problems we face.
“We believe it is the system, not the service, which requires treatment. It has become unnecessarily complicated, fragmented and bureaucratic. To address this, NHS Alliance has identified three key aims for 2015:
- 24 / 7 responsibility for patients is returned to general practice operating within the Multi-speciality Community Providers model, suggested in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View. NHS Alliance described this model as a ‘Community of Care’ in its 2014 paper, Think Big, Act Now and is leading the way in helping make communities of care a reality through a new, dedicated support unit. We are convening an expert seminar in June to bring together analysis and case studies from our membership, and wider practitioners and policy makers from across the NHS to support their implementation. We welcome expressions of interest – simply email us at email@example.com.
- We commend the RCGP campaign to attract young doctors to general practice and look forward to building on it when we launch our inspiration campaign to attract dynamic, young health professionals across primary care in its entirety next month. The campaign will be driven by our Tomorrow’s Leaders Network, which brings together some of the brightest minds from primary care. These individuals are passionate about their careers in the community as pharmacists, optometrists, dentists and GPs, and are motivated to play a part in sustaining a national health service, free at the point of need.
- However, none of the above is possible without a model of equitable funding between primary and secondary care providers. It is time to properly review the way healthcare is funded, as the disparity in funding between primary and secondary care is making it almost impossible to treat people where they want to be treated, and where they are most efficiently and safely treated; in the community. Over the coming months, NHS Alliance will be looking at how we change historical imbalances between primary and secondary care, whether it be funding, training, support or profile.
“Finally, as patients, we need to think carefully about our expectations and challenge the ethos that everyone is entitled to everything. To do that we must involve patients more in the management of the NHS, and move their care into the community where possible. Together we can help sustain a healthcare system that remains free at the point of need. We need to help people understand that A & E is not the front door to the NHS – it should be used only as its name suggests, that is, in case of an accident or emergency.
“My hope is that in a year’s time, when we undertake our 2015/16 NHS Temperature Check, we are looking at a service in considerably better health, where patients are increasingly cared for in the community, by the community, wherever possible.”
Notes to editors
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,782 adults and 1,570 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th – 13th January 2015 and 19th – 20th January 2015. The surveys were carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+)
NHS Alliance is the leading independent voice for providers of health and social care outside hospital. It is the only not-for-profit membership organisation to bring together frontline clinicians and organisations of all kinds in our communities – from general practice, community pharmacy to providers of housing and emergency services.
It has the ear of Government and policy makers and is an engine for change, actively involved in shaping and driving new agendas and policies that affect patient care outside hospital. It is driving a new integrated and collaborative, community-based model of care for an ageing population living with long term conditions, and is focused on breaking down the historic boundaries and silos that get in the way of truly progressive and innovative community-based patient care.
For further information please contact Stewart Laing, firstname.lastname@example.org / 07725 555030