Guest column by Roy Lilley

It’s simple enough; you employ someone, they do a good job, a bad job, an indifferent job.

You keep them, sack them or train them.

It’s not rocket science.  It’s the way of the world.  Harsh?  Maybe.  Perhaps there are reasons why someone doesn’t do the job as well as you’d expect.

Lack of resource, training, opportunity, rules, regulations.  Yup, I get that.

You’re the boss and you have to fix it.

Yes, you are the boss and in this case, you are not running a business, you are an elector.  You voted.  You are running the country.  You have the outcome you like or don’t like… that’s democracy.

For the next five years you employ a government to keep the nation safe, care for the ones that have trouble caring for themselves and encourage us all to do our best.

Our money, your money, all our money employs members of parliament to run the nation.

What do we need to be fixed?  What are the issues we want them to address?

I inhabit the world of the NHS.  That’s my locus.  So, I want to see the MPs we employ, in the DHSC, fix some important issues.  I could list about twenty mission critical things but, in the spirit of the first TV management guru, Sir John Harvey Jones; organisations should only concentrate on three things at once.

We need to solve three problems; social care, workforce and a safer NHS.

Let’s have a look at them in turn.

The awful state of adult social care is a disgrace… probably a crime.

Local authorities, who have had their budgets shredded, in consequence, have raised their eligibility criteria for providing help, so high an Olympic pole vaulter couldn’t get over the bar, never mind yer-granny.

There are 900,000 frail, vulnerable, elderly people, who used to get help, no longer do so.  They wander around, like refugees, in our system and guess what?  They pitch up in A&E, get transferred to a ward and stay there because no one can fund the care packages to get them home safely and timely.

I thought we employed MPs to fix that?

The obvious solution… we are all going to get old, so we all put a couple of quid in the tin.  If we are lucky, we never have to take our couple of quid out of the tin.  If we are not… there’s money in the tin… don’t worry.

It’s called socialism.  Don’t be afraid to use the word. Community solidarity. You and me, looking after us.

We employ MPs to make sure we can look after us…

Workforce?  Neglect, underfunding, poor planning, the end of the training bursary for nurses… there’s a list of reasons why we are in a mess.  We don’t have enough people to look after the people we need to look after.

Here’s the big issue; there is a global shortage of care workers.  A careful and thoughtful policy, to encourage qualified staff from outside the UK, to come and work here depends on a sensitive and sensible immigration policy.

A policy that is welcoming, creates opportunity, security and a future that is at least as good as the countries who are facing the same issues and have their policies sorted.

A training offer that makes working in the NHS attractive and rewarding, a reason for people to stay and the ones who have left, return.

We employ MPs to make sure we can resolve workforce issues.

A safer NHS?

No one comes to work in the NHS to do a bad day’s work, to make an error, to be neglectful…

… but, a lot of people come to work and get distracted, frazzled, tired and make honest errors.

For fear of oppressive regulation, penalties and career annihilation, the errors get over-looked, covered up, ignored.

There is little learning from errors.  There are few opportunities for NHS people to be frank about their actions or feelings.  Why what happened, when it did.

We employ MPs to make sure there is a workplace environment that is calm, caring, supportive and a place to learn.

Three critical things and three opportunities for MPs to shine, make change, have ideas, innovate, and be supportive.

Three things that in my, over, 30 years in the NHS, the political classes have not delivered on.

Frank Dobson, when he was secretary of state for health, kicked a review of social care into the long grass.  It’s stayed there.

Successive health bosses have failed on workforce planning, and Jeremy Hunt, for all his bravado about a safer NHS, never dealt with safe staffing in the NHS.

Lack of resource, training, opportunity, rules, regulations?

MPs can change any of this.  If a barrier is too high, they can lower it.  If training is needed they can make it happen.  If regulations are too restrictive, they can change them.  We employ MPs to do the people’s work.  Alas they don’t.

For fear of party loyalty, electoral failure, criticism, challenge, making an effort, understanding or climbing the greasy pole.

The history is irrefutable… the moral of this story?  If you want something done… don’t employ a politician.


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