Another NHS report! Should we be dazzled by Darzi? Does Lord Darzi of Denhams report on the future of the NHS - the 84-page Final Report of the NHS Next Stage Review, High Quality Care for All fundamentally alter the picture so that the customer is in charge?
Lord Darzi, an eminent key-hole surgeon and in 2007 ennobled as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, has certainly significantly shifted the focus of concern. There is a new emphasis on quality and on outcomes including patients reports of their experiences. The focus on compassion, cleanliness, dignity and respect is vital, too - if still rather astonishingly necessary after 60 years of the NHS and after years of unprecedented investment. In launching his report at Westminster Lord Darzi said that For the first time, patients own assessments of the success of their treatment and the quality of their experiences will have direct impact on the way hospitals are funded. This admits some key principles into the debate. He has, too, introduced some financial incentives for providers to respond. These are important issues, and his leadership here is very welcome.
However, we should rigorously apply the tests of consumer control, of competition, and of fully informed customers where the individual is empowered to make choices and the medical professions are empowered i