Thursday, 8 December 2011

Using the third sector to improve our health!

Andrew Lansley MP spoke at Guys Hospital yesterday, ( founded as a charity in Southwark in the 16 th century incidentally ) about improving results for patients. It's worth repeating key points from his speech :

"Today, we are making it clear that the NHS is about one ambition and one ambition alone - improving results for patients.

"And that is the change that the NHS Outcomes Framework that we’re publishing today, will bring about. It sets the direction for the whole NHS. Orienting the NHS back towards the people who really matter: its patients.

"And it sets out how we will hold the NHS to account for improving the results that patients get.

"But to realise my ambition -- I must realise the ambitions of the near one million patients that come into contact with the NHS every day. To give patients genuine options over their care
to give patients the tools they need to decide with their doctors the right way forward. To ensure decisions are only taken by doctors, nurses and patients together - genuinely sharing in the decisions made about their care.

"My ambition for patients is, quite simply, this: ‘No decision about me, without me.’

"And let me tell patients - remember that in the NHS - it really is all about you."

His insistence on a policy of , no decision about me , without me is spot on. And to help deliver that we need to commission the third sector more. Not just as service delivers , important though that is , but also because we act as advocates and advisors to citizens and champions of better health and campaigners against abuse.

There was a wake up call from that great charity Cancer yesterday. It's British Journal of Cancer review just published, showing how many cancers are the result of lifestyle and environmental factors - 'the most comprehensive' report of its kind, according to the charity. The report finds that more than 100,000 cancers – equivalent to one third of all those diagnosed in the UK each year – are being caused by smoking, unhealthy diets, alcohol and excess weight. Smoking is far and away the most important lifestyle factor causing 23 per cent of cancers in men and 15.6 per cent in women (nearly one in five cancers). Overall the review shows that 45 per cent of all cancers in men could be prevented – compared with 40 per cent of all cancers in women.

So we know that for cancer and for all long term conditions action to support people in managing conditions and in prevention is key to better health for all. So who is best placed to do this? It's not our hospitals but brilliant charities like Cancer UK and the long term condition charities like Diabetes Uk , Asthma UK and the British Heart Foundation. So we must call for a major expansion of the "any qualified provider" policy. We need GPs to commission the sector to carry out preventative work and to encourage more integration of social care and health.

I know from my own personal experience of Diabetes type 2 that my management of this condition is more important than tablets or trips to the doctor. In fact the support from the NHS for anyone with Diabetes type 2 is minimal. An annual test with a doctor saying you need more exercise is not going to do the trick. But organisations like Diabetes UK ( of which I am a paying and enthusiastic member ) can provide the advice and support and peer networks that will work. More effective for me is the fact that i get shouted at by my staff if I so much as look at a cake indeed I was forced to bin a croissant I had inadvisedly taken before my last Board meeting.

Dog walking not leg chopping is a policy the NHS badly needs to implement. And divert resources away from hospitals to community care and support. So Andrew ; be bolder on shutting hospitals and putting resource into our third sector. Personal budgets for long term conditions so people can buy dogs and gym membership if needed.

So as you can imagine my long walks in the Scottish Highlands are just the ticket. Though I'm afraid the heavy snow and biting winds today did curtail that somewhat! Even the Hound looked cold , despite her hunting tartan.

View from my window:


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