Can Simon Stevens save the NHS? A GP’s perspective

Simon Stevens

Has primary care has located a champion in Simon Stevens? Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

“Will he, won’t he?” ponder NHS pundits plucking the petals of the privatisation daisy, as they consider the position of Simon Stevens, the incoming chief executive of NHS England, outgoing president of the global overall health division of the American United Well being Group and former wellness adviser to Tony Blair.

In the red corner, “quit privatisation of the NHS” is shouted by hospital consultants on the moonlight run to their personal clinics, shop stewards fearing redundancies for their members, and a crew of managers who suspect the new boss would demand productivity for their £100,000 plus salaries.

In the blue corner, personal bidders and hopefuls of all sorts vying for a seat at Stevens’ table.

Watching the kerfuffle from the gallery are individuals who know that the bulk of the NHS is already firmly in private hands.

Back in 2005, then wellness minister Lord Hutton explained: “90% of all patient journeys begin and end in our main care method with our family GPs. They are all privately run organizations. They are tiny organizations and individuals GPs – fairly rightly so – make a profit from their work with the NHS.”

The fact is that primary care – the portion of the NHS that most folks have contact with most of the time – is already in private sector hands.

Personal businesses are offering everything from maternity to end-of-daily life care. Ambulance contracts are up for grabs and entire NHS hospitals are becoming turned more than to private firms.

Alternatively of debating the tangential issue of privatisation, folks must ask: is Simon Stevens capable of delivering a high quality wellness service? I feel he is. He knows that the NHS was built to supply a initial class healthcare method for all, not to safeguard employment for managers, medical professionals and nurses.

He also realises that the NHS has never been a nationalised business and neither can it survive in its existing state – not with a quick developing multi-million pound deficit.

The private sector isn’t the ideal medicine for the NHS, but it is an inexorable part of the remedy. Nevertheless, independent providers solely motivated by profit will be disappointed. Stevens has won the best job simply because he is very best outfitted to weed out the undesirable or disreputable traders of healthcare.

His earlier job in hospitals taught him there are two varieties of independent provider. People with an unquenchable thirst for profit and these who do not let market interactions to erode moral values.

A harmonious partnership also calls for some brain energy on the part of commissioners, and who far better to fulfil this function than Stevens? His ten many years on the board of United Wellness, which spends $ 150bn purchasing healthcare for its members, has produced him an accomplished commissioner.

I have no doubt that he will lead from the front and that his prime priority will be to disseminate his knowledge and knowledge to all commissioners, not just clinical commissioning groups.

I think he will create a commissioning model that is not limited to public and private sectors but also consists of the community and voluntary sectors, the values of which he learned as a councillor in south London.

He will, thanks to the Well being and Social Care Act, ensure the voice of the voluntary sector is heard by the health and wellbeing boards. Bed-blocking alone charges the NHS about £200m a 12 months and it transpires when assistance from social care is not accessible in the community for vulnerable individuals.

The important problem for boards is how to get care in the property appropriate and how to utilise large third-sector organisations as well as the GP primarily based army of volunteers – the patient participation groups.

I am convinced that Stevens has a great opportunity of delivering a leading-top quality, minimal-price health support and, as a GP and CCG commissioner, I am delighted that principal care has identified a champion at the head of NHS England.

Dr Kosta Manis is cardiology lead for Bexley clinical commissioning group

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