Someone once told me that everything happens for a reason – and frequently what first appears as coincidence in the NHS often has had reason behind it all along.
Take the white paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS. Many more politically astute commentators than me have made their views on the implications of this document very clear. But allow me to put the politics to one side for a moment to revisit some of the other "highlights":
The last point, in particular, has been well documented by the media. As has the demise of SHAs and PCTs. Social enterprises are to be the new future.
We in Scotland will watch all of this unfold and develop with great interest, but we will also be busy with our own search for excellence. Next month heralds the launch of The Quality Strategy. This may not attract the same level of media interest, but there are plenty of similarities between this document and Equity and Excellence (aside from the commissioning aspect!).
The Strategy's purpose is to deliver the highest quality healthcare service to people in Scotland and to be recognised as among the best in the world. It has three main aims:
These will be achieved by initiatives such as:
The document outlines three "Quality Ambitions" to support its main aims:
New government targets will be developed to support these Quality Ambitions.
How will this be measured? Well, as it was so successful in general practice, there will be a Quality Measurement Framework, much like the QOF. And just as there were patient surveys for practices, patients will be consulted on this too. Performance will be recorded and monitored on a Quality Scorecard.
Is it just chance that two different health services would come up with very comparable goals, measures, jargon and processes? Are these understandable coincidences, merely similar responses to similar challenges or well-planned overarching health strategies?
Whatever the truth, I firmly believe that many of these initiatives will improve services for patients. It will be fascinating to see how closely all four UK systems come to mirror one another, what the results of a Scottish election does to the mix and where we will all be a year from now.