‘Take the NHS out of politics’
A SENIOR doctor has called for the NHS to be taken out of government control as part of the latest plans for reorganising the health service.
Dr Layla Jader, a public health doctor, believes that severing the link between the NHS and the Government is the only way to secure the health service’s future for the next 60 years.
And she told the Western Mail that if Health Minister Edwina Hart takes this step, she will restore Aneurin Bevan’s founding principles.
Dr Jader’s comments come as the Welsh Assembly Government is consulting on proposals to cut the number of local health boards to eight and end the internal market in the NHS.
The proposals include setting up a national NHS Board which would fund NHS trusts and LHBs and implement government policy.
If the suggested changes to reduce the number of LHBs are accepted – the consultation ends next month – it will abolish the much-vaunted link between LHBs and local government, which was the driving force behind former Health Minister Jane Hutt’s idea to create 22 LHBs five years ago.
Dr Jader, who has been campaigning for an end to government control of the NHS for more than two years, said: “Edwina Hart is trying to undo some of the mistakes of the past.
“I am asking her to go the extra mile and do what in my opinion is the biggest act to bring back Bevan’s idea of a health service.”
Under Dr Jader’s alternative proposals, an NHS Board for Wales would be independent of direct government control, but it would be accountable to the National Assembly through a health scrutiny committee.
Elected representatives from the four main political parties in Wales would sit on the board, alongside expert representatives from NHS professional groups, including doctors, nurses, professionals allied to medicine and health service managers.
The board would be advised by an independent and accountable NHS Advisory Body and would oversee policy, planning and performance management.
In a paper outlining her proposals, Dr Jader said: “It would bring a balanced political and electoral representation to the NHS as well as the expertise of highly experienced health professionals elected to represent the NHS staff from within their clinical, professional, and health service management organisations.
“It would be better placed to deal with the difficult issues of prioritisation and future funding of the NHS.
“The board would not have to change to follow the outcome of the general election. It is independent of macro-politics, above and beyond the needs of the government of the day.”
She added: “The NHS is too complex and too vital to our future prosperity to be governed by the self interest and the monopoly of any specific party.”
Dr Jader believes that the decision to delegate the Treasury’s role in controlling inflation to the Monetary Policy Committee of the independent Bank of England sets a precedent for taking the NHS out of direct governmental control.
And she believes that decisions made by a “trusted body that is seen to be independent” will be better accepted by the public.
A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said: “The consultation (on the number of LHBs) closes on June 25 and responses will be considered in due course.”