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Making healthcare more human-centred and not system-centred as Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt sets out the direction of reform for the future NHS.

In his speech, Jeremy Hunt stated that…

We have just had an election - and whatever the disagreements between the parties, the NHS was most definitely on the ballot paper. Voters told the pollsters time after time that their most important issue was the future of a service that is part of our very essence as a country.

From bureaucratic to patient-centred

Every health secretary has to deal with a crisis of some sort - and my first was not long coming. The Francis Report into the horror of what happened at Mid Staffs shocked me to the core: how could a system which claimed to put patients first allow such lapses in care to continue for 4 years without anyone putting a stop to it? Even more shocking was the rapid realisation that Mid Staffs was not isolated: hospitals up and down the country were making the same, tragic mistakes - a terrible, unintended consequence of a targets culture where system goals mattered more than the care of individual patients.

It was, quite simply, a total betrayal of what the NHS stood for - not least a betrayal of the staff who worked in those hospitals. None of them joined the NHS to be associated with poor care - and yet they found themselves trapped in a huge bureaucracy where too often the price of speaking out was to be bullied, harassed and sometimes hounded from their jobs.

My argument today is simple: if we truly want to change from a bureaucratic to a patient-centric system, the NHS needs a profound transformation in its culture.

‘Patient-centric’ is horrible phrase. How about ‘more human’ - the title of Steve Hilton’s recent book? Because the truth is that decades of building processes around system targets and system objectives, often with the best of intentions, has demoralised staff and patients and dehumanised what should be some of the most human organisations we have.

Some of the main points that Jeremy Hunt made are:

  • “next March we will go further still, becoming the first country in the world to publish avoidable deaths by hospital trust”


  • “With smart metrics we can also be less prescriptive about models of care, allowing more space for local ingenuity and innovation.”


  • “next March we will go further still, becoming the first country in the world to publish avoidable deaths by hospital trust”


  • “There can be no compromise on the issue of safe staffing”


  • “Around 6,000 people lose their lives every year because we do not have a proper 7-day service in hospitals. You are 15% more likely to die if you are admitted on a Sunday compared to being admitted on a Wednesday. No one could possibly say that this was a system built around the needs of patients”
  • “be in no doubt: if we can’t negotiate, we are ready to impose a new contract…by the end of the Parliament, I expect the majority of hospital doctors to be on 7-day contracts.”


  • “We have the chance to make NHS patients the most powerful patients in the world - and we should leap at the opportunity. Within the next 5 years our electronic health records will be available seamlessly in every care setting. You will be able to access them, share them, mark preferences, and shape the care that you want around them… New medical devices will mean an ambulance arrives to pick us up not after a heart attack but before it - as they receive a signal sent from a mobile phone… Data sharing between doctor and patient means power sharing too. Intelligent transparency creates intelligent patients with healthier outcomes. Get this right and it is no exaggeration to say that the impact will be as profound for humanity in the next decade as the internet has been in the last.”



The Forward View sets our course for 5 years. Over those 5 years patients can look forward to a 7-day NHS offering safer and more integrated care than ever before as we start to rise to the big challenges of the 21st century: making healthcare more human-centred and not system-centred.

But the transition to patient power will dominate healthcare for the next 25 years. We cannot resist the democratisation of healthcare any more than we can resist democracy itself. But we can choose whether we want the NHS to be the leader of the pack, turning heads across the globe, or a laggard always struggling to embrace innovation adopted earlier elsewhere.

Mid Staffs, curiously, can help us here. It was indeed a terrible shock as we looked in the mirror and saw just how far we had drifted from a truly patient-centred system. But if we learn the lessons, it could also be a decisive moment of change when we break from the past and resolve to become the first truly democratic, patient-centred healthcare system in the planet.

Starting with intelligent transparency, then using it to foster a learning culture to support and empower staff, then embracing technology to give patients real control of their own health and care - that is the journey that beckons. The world’s largest learning organisation supporting the world’s most powerful patients: time to get real to the opportunity and rush to embrace it.


For more information see original source:

Forthcoming relevant events:

Reducing & Monitoring Avoidable Hospital Deaths attributable to problems in care
Thursday 8 October 
Hallam Conference Centre

Nursing Metrics for Quality: Measuring quality in nursing and monitoring progress against the 6Cs
Monday 7 December 
Hallam Conference Centre

Nursing Staffing Levels and Skill Mix In Accident and Emergency Departments
Monday 9 November 
Hallam Conference Centre


Safe Staffing for Nursing in Mental Health Inpatient Units
Monday 16 November 
Hallam Conference Centre


Managing and Reducing Bank and Agency Staff in Nursing
Wednesday 9 December 
Hallam Conference Centre


Delivering a 7 Day Health Service
Monday 9 November 
Hallam Conference Centre

Medicines Optimisation: Ensuring the safe and effective use of medicines
Monday 21 September 
Hallam Conference Centre


Non-Medical Prescribing for Pain
Tuesday 22 September 
Hallam Conference Centre


Electronic Prescribing In Hospitals: Moving Forward
Tuesday 6 October 
Colmore Conference Centre


For a full list of Healthcare Conferences UK events see:


16 July 2015


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