More consensus to save our NHS: easy with the Mayo!

Opinion logoHow the world’s best hospital gets the best out of its staff – an inspiring presentation at yesterday’s King’s Fund Annual conference from Professor Stephen Swensen of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota – left me with the resounding and redolent irony that a leading US health institution should reject the excesses of marketplace ideals and in doing so echo the very best of how the NHS once was. And needs to be again.

The Mayo is highly regarded as a centre of excellence and as number one in many reports on healthcare.
Prof Swensen spoke of how they develop leadership and make decisions. They value each other’s input and have consensual decision making; in this way everyone involved is the architect of the final decision. Also it is a not for profit organisation with doctors on salaries. It recognises that health professionals are primarily motivated by the desire to help and to work to the best of their abilities.

The results speak for themselves and it reminded me of the NHS I joined in 1971 when consensus was the norm and we had a great feeling of satisfaction.

In 1974 consensus was overruled and general managers were introduced to speed up decision making but since then we have seen disengagement of key people with the necessary knowledge as more management structures are brought in. Then finance became the top priority as business models of management with performance related pay for some were brought in.

How sobering to think that the USA’s top hospital is run on the lines of the old NHS. While the UK experiments with some of the worst ideas from the USA. As we go further from the public service ideals of the NHS our performance is deteriorating.

Time to reinstate the NHS that values its staff. Pass the mayo, please…

Dr Eric Watts - DFNHS Chair

Dr Eric Watts
Chair, Doctors for the NHS

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