Time for a new shift in healthcare politics?

Tomorrow sees a return to healthcare workers striking. However this form of dispute is reminiscent of 1970s politics and questionable if politicians or in fact anyone heeds such approaches.   One has to ask isn’t it time we had a change to how we influence healthcare politics? How do we make that change to influence where politicians make decisions.

There have been two recent examples of true political challenge. The first, in Scotland where an amazing 88%+ of the population voted in their recent referendum on independence. It’s been a long time since UK politics has seen both a passionate and true engagement of people in an important agenda.

Courtesy the South Wales Evening Post

Courtesy the South Wales Evening Post

Why was the turn out so high? because the political agenda became meaningful to the population, resulting in it not being ignored.

The second event is emerging, where the populous of Hong Kong are demonstrating in mass on the right to democratically elect their governing leader. Their approach by students has been inspirational. True examples of how people have followed the passionate campaign of being allowed to decide who leads their territory.  The leaders are those fighting for change while the power has resulted in  a distaste of the  democracy its meant to represent. With a litany of broken promises, it is a political game of cat and mouse which we should watch with interest. The lessons here are that promises made need to be honoured, and false promises are not making the problem go away, if anything increasing the need for politicians to listen and act. Meanwhile the world watches, with more than interest. Is this a new revolution in the making?


Courtesy of Alex Leung

So how does this impact on UK and in particular England’s healthcare politics? By returning to striking brings some attention. It brings some disruption; it brings some inconvenience and slight embarrassment. It however doesn’t address the problem, where politicians’ ignore healthcare Unions and rewards themselves against the recommendation of its own independent pay review body while ignoring others.

So what’s to be done? Well, people can march up and down Whitehall until they’re blue in the face. The only people who are truly impacted are the patients whose routine operations are affected. The NHS always copes in a storm and the impact will be the already stretched resources feel more strain. It may make the BBC News at 6pm & 10pm. It will make all the political unions websites and Ministers will conveniently  blame those marchers for causing chaos and ignoring people, forgetting the fact that nurses, midwives and therapy staff are having year on year cuts in reals terms with the draconian pay restraints, needless to say that isn’t happening to those on green benches in SW1A!

There are other approaches. The last week has seen a shift in the political agenda. Initially portrayed as a protest vote in the Council elections, political parties who have been  heard but not seen, are now emerging as true potential disruptors to the political ecosystem. Regardless of what we think of these individual parties, there’s a change occurring. There is now an opportunity for healthcare to be heard and not just seen. Shouldn’t Union leaders, professional entities be supporting those nurses, therapists & medical staff to becoming elected. Imagine a swell of independently elected  nurses, midwives and healthcare staff as MPs, holding  some balance of power but being on the ‘green benches’. Imagine those people asking the Government of the day the questions that need to be asked and getting the answers that need to be heard. Imagine those nurses getting onto the right committees and influencing from the heart of politics rather  than from Westminster Bridge.

There is another way, but have we the will or support to enable it, surely it’s time the power of the people came to those who truly need it. Time to rethink healthcare politics.


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