Andrew Lansley Speeches, Office for Life Sciences etc

For those just joining us….there is a brief report on Lansley’s speech on the BMA conference website.  The headline is ‘Lansley promises NHS power to doctors’ and I feel almost compelled to put ‘Discuss’ after it.  The BMA piece details Lansley’s 5 Ps or priorities for the NHS.

Another piece running on the Press Association says that from tomorrow the Government will begin publishing quality standards in 150 clinical areas.  The standards have been developed by NICE and the first three will be in dementia, blood clots and stroke.

..and this is what I wrote earlier today…

First, those interested in the future of the Office for Life Sciences will be interested in yesterday’s parliamentary question answered by the Science Minister, David Willetts and which gives some reassurance over its longevity:

Penny Mordaunt MP: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what plans he has for the future of the Office for Life Sciences; and if he will make a statement.

Mr Willetts: The Office for Life Sciences (OLS) will continue to work to improve the UK business environment for life sciences companies. This will be based on close and collaborative working between Ministers in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department of Health, and their officials.

There certainly doesn’t seem to be much appetite in Government for shifting the chairs around at this point does there?

Meanwhile Andrew Lansley has been on the stump at the NHS Confederation and BMA annual conferences last week and this.   The latter, like Wimbledon, is one of those summer fixtures that reassuringly plays to type.  Lansley spoke there this morning and only a few reports have drifted through at the moment.  Those that have, focus on Lansley’s rejection of Jamie Oliver’s recipe for public health.  His promise of a public health strategy paper in the autumn is good news and an opportunity for charities and others to really shape a better approach to public health in the UK.

As regards his speech to the NHS Confederation, I  noticed this quite interesting passage about unlocking innovation in the NHS – he cites examples in cancer and stroke:

‘….we need to see it happening systematically across the service. One of the virtues of the National Health Service is it attracts and inspires some of the brightest and best from around the country and around the world, but our system has failed to make the most of this potential.  We have to set the NHS free to innovate.  We should be constantly thinking about how we can do things better, encouraging the adoption of successful ideas throughout the Health Service.

But we don’t capitalise on innovation and ideas today enough because the system is too rigid, because we do one thing at a time, what the centre dictates and when it dictates it.

To give you an example, recently I was in a catheter lab, happily not to have angioplasty myself, but I was talking to the cardiologist about the introduction of primary PCI. And it became clear from the way they were talking that they and I knew this from years back – they had known on the basis of the peer review journal evidence that primary PCIs as a first response to a heart attack was something that was going to be a better way forward. But they didn’t believe they could do anything about it across the whole of the NHS until the Department of Health had in effect given them the permission to do so. The same was true − which I knew well − in relation to thrombolysis for stroke.

Why can other countries then move those clinical practices forward so much faster than we have done?  Why does our National Health Service appear to have acted as a brake on change rather than an accelerator for change?

I think because too often we’ve been like a convoy.  We are big, we are national, we are all in this together, but actually that doesn’t mean that we can only go at the pace of the slowest.  We have to make sure there are first mover advantages.  We have to make sure the incentives are there to do the right thing as quickly as you can, and to act on the basis of the evidence, not to wait around to be told to do it by the Department of Health. So the current way of doing things has to change.

I want to provide freedom, responsibility and accountability so that clinicians don’t have to wait, least of all for my permission, to move from the thing that is targeted to something better.  When the evidence says something works, they should be free to get on and do it and have the incentives and levers in managerial terms to support that.’

The full text of this speech can be found at on the Department of Health website.

Again, the ambition is music to one’s ears.  But we wait with baited breath to hear ‘how’ it will be achieved.  In the same way I know we all wait for the BMA conference.

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