Towards the direction of travel: NHS Blithering response to the integrated care white paper

The government has published its long-awaited white paper setting out a number of refinements to the ground-breaking reforms introduced by Andrew Lansley in 2012. 

In the document entitled “Integrated and Innovative Something or Other: working together and so on and so forth” [working title], the government explains how “certain aspects” of the Lansley reforms – or what it goes on to identify as “all of them” – have, in the fullness of time, fallen short of their intended goal: the wholesale reform of the NHS to put competition and choice at the heart of things, empower patients, help taxpayers to sleep at night and inspire a new generation of ministerial special advisers to come up with catchy slogans and money-saving wheezes. 

This time around, government sources say, ministers will be expected to read the white paper before putting it before Parliament, a radical departure from the process that resulted in the Health and Social Care Act of 2012. A specially commissioned statue of Lord Lansley, paid for by abolishing most of the organisations created by his legislation, is to be unveiled at a ceremony attended by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (both registered trademarks of Royal Appearances and Promotions Inc), and watched by a hand-picked group of health tourists. The statue will then be thrown into the Thames at Westminster following a short apology by former prime minister David Cameron. 

The senior team at NHS Blithering have issued the following statements. For interview opportunities, photos and copies of the Blithering Roadmap to Integrated Care (BRIC), please contact head of integrated system-level communications Martin Plackard.

Sir Trevor Longstay, executive chairman of the University of Blithering Hospital Trust, said: “I told that bloody fool Lansley his reforms wouldn’t work and thanks to people like me they haven’t. There’s a place for markets, but it’s not the health service, where we know best about how to spend taxpayers’ money. Bureaucratic procurement processes have just made it harder to appoint the right provider, which was almost always the one who employed me in an advisory capacity or was run by a chap I was at school with. 

“I welcome the very real challenges set out in the white paper, namely the creation of a new duty to collaborate, which I look forward to seeing defined and, at some point in future, perhaps even enforced. Meanwhile I’m pleased to see that some of the most pressing problems confronting us all, such as workforce planning, have been robustly acknowledged. This is a very significant development and a vital first step on the road to discussing them further.”

Joy Hunter, leader of the Blithering Integrated Care System, All of Us in Charge, said: “We now have an opportunity to work towards inclusive leadership styles at system, place and neighbourhood levels where we plan to embed meaningful change and put compassion at the heart of everything we do. With the power to hold our own budget at last, the ICS will be able to fund the local initiatives that make a real difference to people’s lives, including the vegan wellbeing academy and community aerobics ambassador schemes that are so close to my heart. 

“I look forward to working with place-based leaders to ensure that we’re managing population health at a scale and on a footprint that not only involves local people but is fully accountable to them. To that end, I’m proud, humble and excited to announce the creation of the Blithering Assembly, which will provide a forum for local leaders to share their experiences, plan their aspirations and socialise their strategies. The assembly will meet twice a year at the Blithering Leisure Centre, with light refreshments provided free of charge and a very reasonably priced buffet lunch courtesy of Rummage Catering Ltd.”

To download a copy of Joy Hunter’s slide deck “Putting Me in Charge: my priorities for the local health economy” or for a draft copy of the Blithering collaboration assurance framework and accompanying guidance: “Top Tips for Working Together: it’s not a choice, it’s a duty”, please go to the NHS Blithering website.   

© 2021 Julian Patterson

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