By their works shall ye know them
By Caring Times editor Geoff Hodgson
While David Cameron has got his knickers in a knot over the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission, the UK’s care sector is doing its own contorting over comments by the newly appointed chief executive of the NHS Simon Stevens who has said he would be disappointed if in 30, 40 or 50 years’ time nursing homes still exist.
“He’s out of touch!” howl the associations. “He should come and look at a modern care home to see for himself how care homes are centres of local communities providing preventative, intermediate and long-stay care in a compassionate and caring environment.”
Quite so, but I wonder how serious he is. Simon Stevens is a career civil servant who oozes the ethos of the NHS with which he is imbued. In his speech to the NHS Confederation annual conference in early June he was at pains to placate and reassure his audience. For example, he dismissed the almost universal concern about the bloated NHS management structure with the comment: “Rather than constantly debating the reorganisation of our management tiers, let’s now ask the more profound questions about how care is actually being delivered.”
No change, then, on that score. Politician that he is, he used many words to say not much but he did suggest that there might be a new approach to commissioning services so private providers might have cause to be cautiously optimistic. Why then, this off-the-wall comment about there being a decreasing need for care homes? I think it’s because he knows that the care sector has insufficient weight in public sector circles for there to be any significant threat to his position and that, being the customer, he can afford to be offensive.
Simon Stevens is a crowd pleaser. We’ll have to wait to see what he does, but we can discount much of what he says. The problem of course is the weary merry-go-round of NHS chief executives we have to put up with as senior civil servants seek to maximise their retirement benefits. The average tenure of an NHS boss is about three years. Sir David Nicholson jumped ship after two-and-a-half years. So we get these regular infusions of tired old blood carrying the same old maladies. By the time the NHS lurches towards a £30bn deficit by the end of the present decade, Simon Stevens will be long gone, and a growing number of care homes will be doing their best to bail out the future incumbent.
– The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.