Have you read Andy Burnham’s speech to The Kings Fund? As shadow health secretary he is setting out his ideas for the NHS and an integrated health and social care system.
Mr Burnham’s views on the healthcare system are food for thought and some of the values expressed might be considered to align with OT principles. Here at SHOUT we are strictly non-political, so this post does not back The Opposition’s position on health and social care reform nor undermine the current Government’s attempts to streamline the NHS and deal with huge costs. The Government may have received criticism of its spending cuts, and the creation of a (possibly) more commercial healthcare system, but we must also remember that Andy Burnham was in government during the time of the Mid Staffordshire Hospital scandal. It stands us in good stead to be balanced when we read political speeches and apply the critical appraisal skills we are learning at university to political rhetoric.
However, there are ideas in the speech that some OT students may find interesting and resonate with our principles of holism, personhood and choice. In the light of the Mid Staffs scandal of systemic failure, profits before patients and a culture of bullying and neglect, putting people first seems sensible to help us move away from
“…a 20th century production-line model, with a tendency to see the immediate problem – the broken hip, the stroke – but not the whole-person behind it.”
Essentially, the client-centred model.
Our OT approach of treating the whole person - their social, physical and mental health needs - might be truly realised in Burnham's idea of an integrated health and social care system:
“…one service co-ordinating all of one person’s needs: physical, mental and social. Whole-Person Care.”
Many people would like to see an NHS more responsive to people's needs. Rapid response teams are already on the front line, helping people with urgent needs to prevent hospital admissions and the speech holds up an example of effective occupational therapy in Torbay:
"Occupational Therapists visit homes the same day or the day after they are requested; urgent aids and adaptations supplied in minutes not days."
Burnham seems to point to an expanding role for OTs in preventative health and helping people stay independent at home:
"A service that starts with what people want – to stay comfortable at home – and is built around them."
His vision is of a health and social care service that is cohesive, that moves away from the medical model and puts the person at the centre. But how would he make that a reality and could it be funded? Browse the speech... see what you think.
We are the future of the NHS. We are all passionate about being part of an institution that is key to our country's health and wellbeing. But we need more than education and desire. We need to be able to ask questions, to be challenged. We need to engage with the changing health and social care landscape and policy, and be inspired to be the best we can be in representing and advocating for our profession.
Are you happy with the way the NHS is currently operating? Are there any areas you’d like to see changed? And what do you think could be done about it?
Maybe you really loved your placement and feel that the NHS is working incredibly well – having hands on practice with patients or clients, or seeing good MDT working, can be a beautiful thing!
What would you like to see happen over the next few years to deliver best patient care and have satisfaction in your job as an OT?
Let’s start talking about health and social care...