Election views

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c2095 (Published 21 April 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2095

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We asked a range of contributors what they think the key election issues are for the NHS and their personal hopes for the future under the next government

Martin Marshall, clinical director and director of research and development, Health Foundation

My simple message for the next government is to be clear about your role and stick to it. Your job is to convey a clear and consistent vision of what the health service needs to look like in the future. This is a vision that is centred on a commitment to continuous improvement in population health and in the quality and safety of patient care; that promotes a new dynamic between patients and health professionals and a new model of professionalism; that encourages innovative technologies to enable better communication, improved diagnosis and treatment, and more effective use of limited resources; and that challenges traditional structures and working practices. Your role is to align the legislative, regulatory, and economic mechanisms to create an environment in which this vision can be delivered. And then you should allow health professionals and managers to work with their local communities to deliver this vision.

Don’t tinker, and don’t pretend that you can control from the centre. Much has been achieved in the past decade, but we are still a long way from ensuring a self improving system that can guarantee a high quality experience and excellent outcomes. This can be delivered only by those who work in the service. Setbacks are inevitable when people are taking risks and learning new ways of doing things. Your job is to support those who are leading change. The end result will be a health service that will truly be the envy of the world.

Jacky Davis, co-chair, NHS Consultants Association

No sensible politician overtly messes with the NHS, and all major parties are now declaring that they are the ones who will best protect it. But …

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