The National Health Service had a difficult birth 70 years ago. Many GPs did not want to be part of it, fearing they would lose their independence and a patient/doctor relationship, but at a time when many sick people could not afford medical treatment the NHS seem to be a beacon of enlightenment for the future health of the nation.
From this difficult birth it has grown to become the second largest employer in the world, second only to the red Army, and some would say is now suffering the debility of old age.
Over the past few years governments have agreed that our modern NHS is not providing the healthcare we need despite more and more money being ploughed in, and despite the valiant efforts of frontline staff trying to make it work better. However, no major reorganisation has been forthcoming and the recent pandemic has further highlighted its failings.
What can be done? Where is the problem?
In my humble opinion there are two key causes that need urgent attention and action. The first problem is that the NHS is suffering, not from old-age debility, but from “big business syndrome” and the second major problem is that the public have been “educated” over the past seventy years that their health is not their responsibility but the responsibility of the NHS, its’ doctors, nurses, care workers and surgeons.
What are the possible solutions that will work?
Luckily there has already been a trial of a successful solution to the “big business syndrome”. In the mid 80’s an international leading company, Omron, began to suffer from the, “big business syndrome”
Once a market leader and highly responsive to change in demand, it was now failing as an efficient organisation. The CEO, Kazuma Tateisi, diagnosed the problem and the solutions. He recognised the most valuable asset the organisation had was the workforce with their experience and ability to make decisions quickly in response to any changes. Though he also saw that his workforce force had become so concerned about making mistakes that they were averse to making any independent decisions.
The nearest I have seen to support this concept is in the aviation industry where any minor errors or “near misses” made by a pilot are reported back so the system can be improved to reduce problems of “near misses” in the future. This has led to increased safety. Pilots are rarely dismissed or downgraded for errors of judgement.
The second action taken was to break-up the company into a number of smaller companies, each totally independent and responsible for their own finances and development, reporting regularly to the board of Omron. Within months the company once again begin to respond better to demands made on it. It began to grow and prosper again. As time went on any company that began to show signs of “big business syndrome” would be divided into two smaller companies.
My own experience
My own experience had convinced me of this problem of diminishing efficiency of management and administration as the company grows when I worked as a management consultant for Hawker Siddeley Group Management Services. We went out into all the group’s companies and re-organised administration work, eliminating unnecessary or duplicate systems with savings of between 10% and 20% in every company. Since these savings were being made in companies that were trading in a competitive market and were concerned for making profits it makes me believe that in the NHS management and administration savings would be much higher.
The second problem needs a more long-term solution – “How can we educate the public that they need to be more responsible for their own health?”
My suggestions will be unpopular I’m sure!
First we must educate doctors and all health workers and see that they are better trained in health promotion. Most GPs have had but a few hours training in nutrition over their five years training despite the fact that all the major evidence suggests that chronic diseases can be avoided or made less serious by simply changing diet. This applies to the worst chronic diseases of diabetes, heart disease, strokes obesity and much more.
Health promotion teaching should begin at school for all children – the essentials of healthy living. This would put health promotion as a key subject, even restoring cookery lessons for all children, but based on the best source scientific evidence of healthy diets. To help the shift there might be government intervention to apply incentives for parents and individuals to buy more fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and reduce consumption of over- processed foods, high in fat and low in complex nutrients.
There is a win-win consequence for everyone shifting to a healthier diet and lifestyle for themselves. The protection of our planet from global warming, depletion of freshwater supplies, pollution of seas and river, erosion of soil and destruction of forests and wildlife will help save our planet’s health for future generations, your children and grandchildren.
The perfect model of what humanity should be evolving towards is clearly outlined for all to see this as explained in great detail in the book entitled “Spontaneous Evolution”.
We all have a body that is in fact a vast community of 50 trillion cells all working together for the common good, your survival and health. Darwin was wrong! Evolution has not been a process of “Survival of the Fittest” but has been success through co-operation and adaptation, a response-ability from the simplest multicellular organism to the complex communities that make up our own bodies.