Political Rhetoric lessons for the NHS

Remember this?

“So I make this commitment to the NHS and all who work in it.

No more pointless reorganisations.”

How  about this?

“No more pointless re-organisations – just building and improving.”

Obviously, the key rhetorical word here was pointless.

I shall have to remember to include this useful modifier to any promises I make.

To take a recent weekend of regrets and remorse – some mournful promises, faithfully to be adhered to.

“Have no doubt – There will be no more pointless drinking games. Further I pledge no more pointless Kebabs on the way home from the pub and I say in absolute certainty – No more pointless lie ins on a Sunday morning when there’s a run to be done”

After any future Kebab/Hangover/Lie-in Incidents, I shall merely observe that in this case there was a clear and pressing case for the Beer, the Kebab, and the lie in, and no hypocrisy or deception has been committed.

But what about this one?

“We won’t get there through yet another massive structural reorganisation. The past decade has witnessed a series of restless changes which, to the NHS itself, have felt like a series of frontal assaults, the latest of which is a national network of polyclinics imposed on local communities – and GPs – that don’t want them. Instead, we’ll offer steady, purposeful change with a clear direction. “

Ah, I see. For Mr Cameron and Mr Lansley, Labour governments enact “pointless reorganisations”, but structural changes made by Conservative governments, however rapid, top down and directive, are merely “steady purposeful change with a clear direction”.

Helpful to know, really.

18 Responses to “Political Rhetoric lessons for the NHS”

  1. tim f

    To be fair, the other option is that it was just an outright lie, like his commitments on Building Schools for the Future.

  2. roger alexander

    On the other hand if we reduce the number of pen pushers,diversity officers ,equality watsits and all the other non-jobs that keep the Guardian in business;we might have some money to reduce the nosocominal infection rates ,improve patient outcomes and the majority population might get access to life saving drugs which are currently reserved for the minorities in Scotland.

    • Brian Hughes

      On the other other hand, if we replace managers and administrators with GPs on three or four times their salaries, not only will said GPs have less time to spend on the doctoring they trained so long and hard to master, we’ll also spend loads more cash.

      Down with populist, dogmatic attacks on managers, administrators and people with amusing job titles – your country needs someone to order the bandages, pay the gas bills, get the cleaners in and do all those other irksome, but largely unseen, tasks a health service, in common with every other organisation, needs to keep itself going…

      • paul

        Back on the first hand, a lot of the hordes of administrators and managers do a pretty poor job. It’s not their money, and indeed if the job can be made to appear more difficult there are opportunities for career advancement, empire building and becoming indispensible. GP’s or other clinicians may be better at ordering bandages, because there is likely to be an incentive for them to get good results, they use the bandages so know what is needed, and they do have other demands on their time and skill to discourage them from setting up and chairing a bandge users outreach project.
        Declaration: Yes I’m a clinician

      • roger alexander

        Problem is that for each position it takes ‘to all those other irksome, but largely unseen, tasks’ in a private hospital, an NHS hospital needs two people.

      • Brian Hughes

        Roger – that must be why the US’s largely private health-care systems absorbed only 6,096 dollars per head of population in 2007 whereas the UK squandered 2,560.

        Paul – I don’t think that any organisation knows more about how to ensure that career advancement or empire building opportunities exist for its members or about how to give the impression of indispensability than the BMA does. Even back in 1948 Bevan had had to ‘stuff their mouths with gold’ to get them on side…

  3. Brian Hughes

    So I’m now glad to make this clear commitment to you all: no more pointless comments on Hopi’s excellent blog…

  4. Newmania

    You mean like ” No more Tory Boom and Busts ” . This game clearly works better if you apply your qualifying adjective retrospectively No more top down edicts just enabling choice and freeing patients , something like that ?

    I`ll sign up to No more pointless insults thrown at that preening buffoon Brian Hughes .

  5. stephen

    All this demonstrates is that the lunatics have really taken over the asylum. If any sensible person believes that a properly thought out review of the the NHS can produce results within 2 months of coming into office then could I suggest that they keep taking the tablets.

    Yes transferring decision taking to those nice cuddly GPs and closer to patient may well be a good thing, but there are still somethings that are better handled at a more centralised level e.g. training, bulk purchasing from the pharmaceutical companies, hospitals (oh we can those over to matron can’t we). I look forward to the forthcoming stories where idiosyncratic GPs start to exercise their bizarre thinking.

    I suspect that we will find out very shortly that PR men are incapable of actually running anything.

  6. Newmania

    ..and what do you for a living then Stephen , something in manufacturing , construction , something like that is it ?

    • stephen


      Yes – often involves cost control and management since you ask.

  7. Newmania

    Well you could have claimed to be a cross dressing exotic masseuse and made it plausible …

  8. Danivon

    Before the election, Lansley came to Rugby. He said that he had ‘seen the plans’ that would keep A&E services in place at the local hospital. He also said that he’d stop any plans to remove services until after a full review.

    After the election, the plans come out to remove the A&E, or at the very least discontinue the overnight cover, and Lansley hasn’t stopped the process.

    Not that the Tories would say any old horse-puckey to get into power or anything…

  9. Huw Clayton

    Goes against the grain, Hopi, but I totally agree, and it’s not just in the NHS. Look at schools. Five years of peace and quiet would have been the best prospect to get to grips with the chaos at the moment, cut costs, spot the problems and maybe even improve the building stock by not wasting money on reorganisations. Instead, we have Ed Balls, a mad meddler, replaced by Michael Gove, academies and new A-levels – nuff said.

    They do it in universities as well – endless tinkering after promising not to. Mind you, Leighton Andrews in Wales is the worst offender, having recently carefully broken up the University of Wales and now announcing his fixed determination to glue it back together, and he’s Labour.

    Who was it said, whoever you vote for, the Government wins?


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