Government policymakers can learn from healthcare professionals

PRESS RELEASE

Speaking at the MDDUS-sponsored BMJ Awards at the Park Plaza Westminster last night, MDDUS chief executive Chris Kenny said:

“At a time when the NHS is under stress and mounting pressure, it is particularly important to celebrate and encourage quality. As well as being exemplars of best practice, the nominees at these awards have a lot to teach Government policymakers.

“Too often, quality initiatives can be seen as simply the pet passion of one individual. However, quality usually isn't about a moment of blinding insight or individual genius: it's about predictability and consistency.

“Quality isn't about earth-shattering visions: often it's about simple incremental steps. It is about keeping focused on the core motivation of care and excellence which bring people into healthcare in the first place.

“And, while there are a lot of beacons blazing brightly in the room tonight, usually quality isn't about an individual institution either: it is about systems linking up across organisations to deliver the best care, most effectively – and usually most cost effectively as well.

“What a pity that Government so often fails to live up to those simple prescriptions – predictability, consistency, incremental improvement and joining up – when it comes to making policy. I have one example in mind.

“At the moment, lost in the election noise, the NHS faces enormous cost pressures because of the Lord Chancellor's inexplicable decision to lower the discount rate for personal injury claims. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has had to find an extra £6 billion over five years to fund it –cash that could be used far more creatively and to far greater impact elsewhere in the service.

“It’s helpful to have an assurance of ‘appropriate funding’ to lessen the impact on GP indemnity rates. Despite a lot of discussions with the Department of Health and NHS England, we still have no certainty about what that support looks like – although we do know that doctors and dentists in the private sector will have to grin and bear the inevitable increase.

“We made clear to the outgoing Lord Chancellor that we have not ruled out legal action. Let me emphasise that again.

“This legally inept decision increases the incentives to put forward tendentious claims. It moves resources from care to lawyers’ pockets, resources that would be far better spent improving the quality of service to reduce the small number of justified claims still further.

“Quality, certainty, morale – you name it, this decision undermines it. Overtreatment, defensive medicine, cost-generation – you name it, this decision encourages it. A new administration needs to put it right quickly.

“The award nominees – with their focus on consistency, predictability and joining up – have a lot to teach policymakers. I hope that these policymakers are sitting up and paying attention.”

Ends

For further information contact Richard Hendry on 0333 0434444 or 07976 272266, or email rihendry@mddus.com.

Note to editors

MDDUS (The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland) is a medical and dental defence organisation providing access to professional indemnity and expert medico- and dento-legal advice for doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals throughout the UK.