Well, at least the language is sort of getting there:
John Reid, the health secretary, has embarked on the biggest ever programme of ministerial visits to NHS hospitals to persuade staff to accept fundamental changes in working practices to improve the service to patients.
He has told colleagues that the public will not accept there has been genuine improvement in the NHS until patients are treated with the same promptness and respect that they get as consumers of other goods and services.
As ‘consumers of other goods and services’ they are the paying the piper and therefore calling the tune. Contrast the NHS where the paying customer is the government and the patients are units of production.
Health ministers think their biggest political challenge is to engineer this change in the working culture of NHS organisations. They want them to tailor services to suit the preferences of the individual instead of expecting patients to adjust to the convenience of the professionals.
Fat chance! Public services are not run for the benefit of the public they are run for the benefit of the public sector. If you want ‘services to suit the preferences of the individual’ you need a free market in healthcare.
So another doomed ‘initiative’ will shortly bite the dust but not before, I hope, Mr.Reid and his advisers reach the logical conclusions of their own ideas.