President calls for politics free NHS

President of our College, Dr Frank Dunn, has called today for an end to politics in healthcare.

Writing in the Herald, Dr Dunn says that there is currently a major political dimension to health in Scotland.This results in changes and reorganisation of the health system every few years when new governments are elected. It also frequently leads to conflicting media reports in the run up to elections as each political party attempts to outscore their opponents.

Dr Dunn claims there is widespread agreement among the medical profession that long-term planning in the NHS is currently difficult because of the term-driven nature of our politics.

He suggests a new way forward in which a health committee comprising representatives of the political parties and health advisers, chaired by the cabinet secretary for health, would provide a new model for the NHS that takes the politics out of decision making and puts the focus entirely on patients.

Dr Dunn said, "Scotland has shown itself to be a world leader in many areas.There is an opportunity to show that leadership again by taking politics out of healthcare and ensuring our health service is driven solely by delivering excellence in healthcare for our patients."

Reverend John Matthews, who chairs the Lay Advisory Board at the College, said, "It is inevitable that decisions about NHS hospitals, clinical staff, spending and the way it is organised in local communities are political - but with a small 'p'.

"In his Agenda article, Dr Dunn suggests there is support for setting up a health committee acting as a non-political executive decision making body.This would have the effect of taking the spotlight away from government and spreading the responsibility across a wider and more representative group. The present movement towards consensus will be severely tested with the Holyrood election due in May 2016."

The Agenda article can be accessed here.

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