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The National Health Service Is A Myth, There Is No NHS

OK there is devolved government funding but therein lies the rub. There is no management structure, no actual service. Just tax payer’s money that for the most part has been dished out in the name of political gain. The money is most commonly allocated in the name of ‘innovation’, as though some unprecedented idea is going permeate the non-existent infrastructure that connects our wellbeing to the not so omnipresent wisdom of those trained in medicine.

I’m all for research and development but my contention is that there is no omnipresence in the form of a national infrastructure to disseminate it. Self-diagnosis via ad-funded platforms now takes precedence over booking an appointment with a GP. There is no single ‘national’ health service, just a disparate collection of regional services unsurprisingly consumed by their own local battles. And at the heart of it, there isn’t even a single recognised format for health and social care records.

How did we miss that?

Such is the brilliance of our collective wit that we’ve managed to get so carried away with the need for newism that we’ve completely forgotten the need for a common language.

“We’ve got more pilots in the NHS than the RAF”, declared Ray, an accomplished delegate at the recent health and social care data integration workshop I attended. He really summed it up. The lack of any system, process, integration or indeed interoperability that barely constitutes our state care ideals left me almost lost for words. Not just me. Another delegate comment from the same .Gov sponsored Digital Catapult event, was that no matter how clever the latest technology, it won’t address the almost absolute disenfranchisement of the health and social care workforce. This is perhaps not surprising given that devolvement of power to local authorities has led to so much blind spending with no clear overall objective. In short, it’s a complete mess!

So do we leave short-term of market economics, quarterly shareholder return and a 4-year national constitution to determine our wellbeing, or should we look for a shift back to common identity and a sense of belonging?

Slides from the Digital Catapult’s Integration 0f Health & Social Care workshop, where we began to address the practicalities of integrated care:

Whatever your political persuasions, vocation, be it public or private sector funded, surly you see value in in shared knowledge. If so please consider this: We desperately need to cut back on satellite projects that compound the problem. We desperately need to rethink continuity of service, region-to-region, healthcare to social care, person to person. As a practicing innovator I propose less innovation and more collaboration. Let’s constitute a form, yep a form, a single wellbeing record that we own from cradle to grave, preferably adopted across the EU or even wider. Sure, it can evolve to accommodate new needs specific to individual states but without a common central language and data repository, all the budget reallocation in the world will fail.

Facebook has proven we can get over the privacy issues. I’m not suggesting Facebook as a solution but it is a precedent that shows we do share what we believe is worth sharing, especially if we are given a user friendly ‘form’ to enable us. For better or worse it highlights what we value. Take the concept of ‘social networking’ and apply it to the idea of ‘personal care networks’ and we have a potential model that could break down the segregated information silos that so many ever-so-clever innovation initiatives have created.

It’s our data and sharing is caring. Healthcare doesn’t need more money – it needs managers at all levels to adopt a single-minded approach to integrated care.

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