...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Day 2268: Hair To Blair


Mr Balloon has been causing a real stir with his new hair: first it was on the right, then it was on the left, then it disappeared altogether.

Hope – as they say – springs eternal.

Meanwhile, Mr B has found a whole new way of having no policies: attacking the government's failures in the NHS, instead. This should NOT be a surprise; Lord Blairimort did it when HE was opposition leader!

For Mr Balloon, this is the REALITY TV approach, best summarised as: "say the MADDEST thing you can think of just to get you on the telly".

Of course, this is often VERY SUCCESSFUL. The Press are fascinated by the sort of people who do PERVERSE and BACKWARDS things. They call it things like "audacious". At least to begin with. And you can gain a LOT of publicity… right up to the point where you go all JADE GOODY. At which point you may find that you SERIOUSLY regret the whole business.

So, anyway, the Conservatories now claim that they can save the NHS (?!?!?!?!?!)

Presumably this mean that, having been SAVED, the NHS can DIE and GO TO HEAVEN.

"The Labour have ripped the heart out of the NHS!" says Mr Balloon… oh it's just TOO EASY; fill in your own joke, why don't you.

His plan (if you can call "not doing what the government is doing" a "plan") is to stop reorganisations and scrap targets.

Note to Mr Balloon: you can EITHER stop reorganisations OR you can scrap targets, but scrapping targets needs a reorganisation so you cannot do BOTH! Or did you not really think this through?

You will not be surprised to learn that where this all gets a bit thin is when it comes to the SUBSTANCE. Mr Balloon promises to give the NHS a "human face", to restore its "heart and soul" but WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

The last time the Conservatories HAD an NHS policy it was to allow rich people to grab cash out of the NHS pot so they could cut the cost of going private. Now, you COULD say that that was "putting people back at the heart of the NHS": people (rich ones) get to choose how their health is treated (so long as they can pay). And the devil take the hindmost.

The NHS is a great big socialist scheme (there's no getting away from that) and as such it only works if everyone joins in, rich and poor alike. And it is not like the rich do not benefit from putting in some cash towards keeping poor people from INFECTING THEM with a PLAGUE OF TUBERCULOSIS or the like.

From a liberal perspective, we would have to say that it DOES reduce people's choices (you have to pay the TAX, so you have LESS of you own money to spend on what you want – which might be private health care. Or it might be STICKY BUNS and PRIVATE LIPOSUCTION to remove them.) But the NHS benefits people MORE by giving them freedom from sickness and ill-health.

So instead of the Conservatory approach of "let them sort out their own health care (we're not paying for it)", we would say everyone mucks in so everyone ought to have a say in how it's run. That means more local control and more local accountability.

The Labour's PROBLEM stems from their innate CONTROL-FREAKERY: the need to MICRO-MANAGE every hospital ward and every doctor's surgery from Mrs Hewitt's desk in Whitehall is what has led to the culture of targets and centralisation. The Labour introduced their SCORECARDS and LEAGUE TABLES in order to try and work out where the NHS was going wrong and make those bits better. They did not INTEND to grind people down beneath a welter of paperwork. THAT was just a LETHAL side-effect.

Mr Balloon – ever a man to look at the surface – has analysed the SYMPTOMS of NHS failure without looking for the ROOT CAUSE.

Looking for a "market" solution – something which was originally the Conservatories idea, remember – to make the NHS better means setting up artificial lists of "better" and "worse", and that in turn makes the doctors and nurses concentrate on the artificial targets instead of on the PEOPLE. And treating people as CUSTOMERS – or COMMODITIES! – instead of PATIENTS makes them feel like they are no more than cattle in a truck.

What we need is for patients and carers to come together and work out what can be done better in local health provision. We, as patients, need to feel that we are getting listened to and receiving meaningful feedback. And doctors need to know that they are valued members of the community making a real difference, and not just part of a team in a game of "It's an NHS Knockout" with ARBITRARY rules and a CRAZY referee.

And Mr Balloon – while we're STILL waiting for those policies which I am SURE will be along ANY DAY NOW – get a haircut, boy!

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