Sunday, 8 July 2007

Modernisation out; change in.

One of the most irritating things about Nulabour and the NHS was the way it commandeered the word "modernise" to hide its intention to dismantle the NHS and hand over health care to the private sector. Nulabour has made an art out of euphemisms and modernise (used in the sense that the Luftwaffe modernised Coventry) is a particularly clever one because anyone who objects to "modernisation" is, by definition, a backward looking dinosaur who is stuck in the past and not to be taken seriously. Unsurprisingly, not many people want to be thought of like this so find it best to say nothing, which gives the modernisers a free hand to do whatever they want. In fact the use of the word "modern" was so successful that they named the department tasked with destroying the NHS the "modernisation agency".
It never really worked for me. I suppose the strategy was devised and aimed at people a little younger than me, but for baby-boomers "modern" conjures up images of streaked concrete council flats (a product of the Modern movement and modern materials) and exquisite antique furniture being painted white so that it looked like something from Habitat - the iconic modern furniture shop of the late 60's
Gordon Brown doesn't seem to do "modern" but he does seem to want "change". I am not quite sure what he means. Is he admitting his Party has been wrong for the last 10 years and is going to try something else or does he mean he wants to continue the change where modernisation left off. Appointing Ari Darzi as health minister and asking him to review the NHS was clever. In one move he has silenced the doctors that want clinicians to decide health priorities and, at the same time, appointed the very same person whose ideas have driven the changes in the NHS that they dislike (ISTC, closing DGHs) to a position where he will essentially be reviewing his own ideas. I suspect that, at the end of his review, he will not be handing back his knighthood in disgust over the "modernisation" of the NHS.


While on the subject of "modern" I was treated to an amazing aerial display yesterday evening. There was an airshow featuring a Spitfire locally but, I think the pilot must have found it a bit tame so, in the early evening, flew out to the rural area where I live and for about 45 minutes put the Spitfire through its paces with a series of stunts I am sure would not be allowed at an airshow. He flew at tree height and did loops and spirals. He flew low and fast and climbed almost vertically. All the time the engine kept its same throaty rumble without any evidence of stalling or strain. I could not believe a piece of machinery approaching 70 years of age could work so sweetly.
Today I decided to cut the grass and got my modern ride-on mower out. I have had it since November but I have only used it 4 or 5 times because the front axle broke the second time I used it and it was out of action for a few weeks. Half way through doing the lawn it just putt-putted and stopped. No obvious reason. I will be lucky if this mower outlives its first oil change.


Nursing Student said...

Usually all the "modernisation" tactics really do is to revert back to a previous system, run by the same people, fine tune it somewhat, then proclaim it to be a wonderous innovation.
Then of course, give it 10 years then when the system gets modernised again...

Dr Ray said...

There is certainly an arrogance in believing that systems and ways of doing things which have evolved and been fine tuned to the problem at hand can be swept away and replaced by untried ideas which, in the case of Dr Clive Froggatt, Mrs Thatchers medical advisor on NHS reform, were dreamed up in a heroin-fuelled haze and became government policy. I am not sure if the current advisors are high on drugs but they are high on political ideology, personal advancement and ambition.

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