#18. And Yet Another Fine Mess.


Well, another Future Fit debacle has been and gone. I couldn’t make it (10th May) because I was registered to attend the re-launch of Staffordshire University’s Centre of Excellence in Healthcare Education at their Royal Shrewsbury Hospital site on the same evening. Having seen the television news reports of the Future Fit meeting – what a shambles.

Perhaps we need a system like the Conclave of Cardinals that elects a new Pope, lock them all in a room and not let them out until they’ve come to a decision they’re prepared to stick to. I suspect that the white smoke used to signal a successful election of a new Pope would on this occasion come from the bonfire of vanities.

The CCGs came into existence just a month (April 2013) before I was elected to represent Highley. I have witnessed this succession of pantomimes throughout the three years I’ve been at Shirehall. One of the first meetings I ever attended was of the Clinical Commissioning Group when it met in Oswestry and since then I’ve regularly attended Health & Wellbeing Boards and Health & Adult Social Care Scrutiny committee meetings, and not once have I heard them decide to do anything except hold yet another “consultation”.

On the 7th April I attended the ’health forum’ called by Philip Dunne. Addressed by David Evans, the Chief Officer of the Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire joint CCGs, he told us what he intended doing to sort out what has developed into another fine mess, although ‘developed’ is probably the wrong word, given that it started out as another fine mess and hasn’t got any better since. At that meeting I heard nothing except, you’ve guessed it, plans for yet another consultation, the one I alluded to at the head of this article – the debacle.

When clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and local authorities took over the responsibilities of primary care trusts (PCTs) and strategic health authorities (SHAs) it was heralded as a bright new dawn in the management of our health care systems. Hmmm. You know the feeling you get when you pull back the curtains and see that the reality of what had been forecast to be a bright new dawn is actually one where it is absolutely peeing it down outside? Right.

So what’s going on, or not going on in this case? Well, those who know me well enough will be familiar with Tremellen’s First Law of Fundamental Errors. (In fact it’s the only Law, but hey, it covers a lot of ground.) It goes some way to explaining the situation.

The First Law is simple and has to do with the Error of expecting joined-up thinking – don’t. That’s it, based as it is on the KISS Principle which advises one to: ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid”. It is unarguably the most effective piece of advice anyone can give themselves, let alone anyone else!

In February the Highley Patient Group saw the KISS principle elegantly applied when David Sandbach presented his detailed plans for future health care provision across Shropshire. Around 20 people attended and the consensus was that David knew what he was talking about, which is hardly surprising given that he is the ex-Chief Executive of the Princess Royal Hospital!

So why, if such comprehensive, workable, costed plans exist, does Future Fit not consider them as part of their review? I suspect the answer to that is because they were worked out by David Sandbach, not by them.

There is a price to such vanity. One we all end up paying!

And talking of vanity. Will the group ‘Shropshire Defend Our NHS’ please shut up and start listening.