I am sure many of you will have heard the legend about the Trevi Fountain in Rome which inspired the 1954 film ‘Three Coins in the Trevi Fountain’ and title song.
It says you must throw three coins into the fountain: the first guarantees your return to Rome, the second leads to a new romance, while the third will lead to marriage.
The same wishful thinking seems to have taken hold with the NHS.
Everyone and no one is throwing principles for this, and principles for that, into the NHS ‘fountain’ and hoping for the best. Sometimes it is 3 principles, sometimes 4 or 5. Occasionally it is 10 (there were called guidelines once upon a time). Perhaps there should be a systematic review of principles or a simple moratorium.
This morning the NHS Five Year Forward View People and Communities Board of published its ‘Six principles for engaging people and communities: putting them into practice.’ It aims to give ‘local areas a practical steer on engaging the people and communities they serve.’
To be fair, I rather like this ‘set,’ particularly the second principle which states: ‘services are created in partnership with citizens and communities.’ Since it aligns with the message we tried to convey in ‘Going the Extra Mile’ report and recommendations last year. I also warmed to the clear principle focusing on carers. As it so happens I met two people at a public meeting in Derby yesterday who were very concerned that carers needs and priorities are being overlooked.
It was also nice to read this down-to-earth view of what the principles should do: ‘These are not new metrics or targets. They are not a check list. They do not need new structures or committees. They will be received by people working at full tilt in a system under great pressure. We hope that the six principles provide inspiration, reassurance and practical support.’ Perfect.
So many coins are thrown by tourists into the Trevi Fountain that it has to be cleaned out every day. Maybe the same should happen with the NHS. But, if so, I hope the six principles might live on like the ‘Three Coins’ song:
‘Six principles in the NHS
Through the ripples how they shine….’