Lansley: medical profession has “inertia”

Andrew Lansley challenged the medical profession today for its "inertia" to innovation and called for "something to happen" when hospitals fail.

Andrew Lansley challenged the medical profession today for its “institutional and professional inertia” as he sought to flesh out his “cast-iron determination” to reform and improve the NHS. He also appeared to be at odds with his party’s commitment to a moratorium on closure when he said that “something had to happen” when you have a failing hospital.

Speaking at the launch of a National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta) discussion paper “The Human Factor“, Lansley outlined what he saw as the two key problems with the NHS:

“First, the NHS is too much of a secret garden where people inside the secret garden know what’s going on and people outside do not. We have to literally open the door … Second, there is institutional and professional inertia, and unwillingness to look beyond the boundaries of how we do things.”

The NESTA discussion paper outlines that, “The NHS does not have to choose between saving money and saving lives, or between cost reduction and reform.” Stian Westlake, head of policy and research at NESTA, called for “radical innovation that puts power in the hands of patients.” He went on, “These savings cannot be made by top-down efficiency targets … it has to go hand in hand with real innovative reform.” The paper estimates that health care services could save the NHS £20bn by 2014 if it followed the recommendations. Also speaking at the event, Tim Kelsey of Dr Foster Intelligence set out the need for information and “digitial interactive tools” to enable innovation.

Mr Lansley went on to say that, “When you have a failing hospital, something has to happen.” It was unclear whether this contradicted the party’s “vociferous” opposition to changes such as closing accident and emergency units. David Cameron said on Monday, “we will immediately stop the proposed closures of vital local services.” But Cameron was accused on Monday of misleading the public over the closure of a stroke unit in London. The party’s health policy has also been criticised  this week for creating a new super-quango and scaremongering over paperwork burdens.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.