Party Political Interference Prevents Hospital Improvement – Privatise the Lot
David Green, 24 September 2004
The Guardian reports how several local hospitals have been prevented by Whitehall from improving their services. Why? Because the changes would look bad in the run-up to a general election. Hospital improvements often involve closing an old building and starting again in a new and better one, but defenders of the old service are often able to kick up sufficient fuss to make politicians back away.
As a result, hospital managers throughout the country have been told that it is the ‘wrong time’ for change. The interference is affecting maternity services in North London, and emergency services in Hartlepool and Edinburgh, among others. Nigel Edwards, policy director of the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS managers and trusts, is quoted as saying that political pressure now means that managers are only ‘able to change anything during an 18-month window between elections, or in safe seats’.
The remedy, not recommended by the Guardian, is de-politicisation. All NHS hospitals should be removed from political control to the management of wholly independent local trusts, able to serve the interests of patients without interference borne of electoral calculation.