Our health team give their view on today’s reshuffle and what it means for the NHS…
The delay in announcing who would succeed Alan Johnson as Secretary of State for Health had us all on tenter-hooks in the Health Mandate team. We had our hopes pinned on Brown giving the job to Andy Burnham (via an office sweepstake) and he has done just that, which we think is a great result for health.
If his attitude towards health reflects his thinking when in the Department previously we could be in for some interesting and exciting times. In his last stint in the Department he took an innovative approach to learning about his brief. Opting to ditch the usual meetings and briefings, he spent time on the front line of the health service, meeting with and working alongside NHS staff. Wouldn’t it be great to see a Secretary of State doing work shadowing in the NHS again.
Burnham is a supporter of the underlying principles of the NHS; that it is free at the point of need and available to all. He championed the introduction of the NHS Constitution and was against moves to allow patients to ‘top-up’ their NHS care. It is likely that he will do away with many national targets and certainly would be reluctant to create any more.
It is possible that in his new role he will want to communicate the value of the NHS to patients. This could mean sending patients statements to show how much their treatment actually cost the NHS. In a consumer, ‘throw away’ society this could be a good step forward.
Alan Johnson has left big shoes to fill. Burnham has the capability to bring the NHS back to its roots and put the patient and NHS staff at the heart of services.