With all this bottom up, client centred, localised, quango quashing patient led change of our communities, I am starting to get more than a sneaking suspicion that we are being “sold a pup”. More importantly I fear we are not seening real change, but a cosmetic chage that threatens to ruin Gloucesters future.
Are we really getting change, or is it just a fancy reorganisation? After listening to some programmes on the NHS transformation to just HS, we are cutting out the burocrats and getting the GPs to do the work, right? Wrong! What seems to be happening is that the GPs form a local consortium with other GPs in the local area, similar to a Trust type organisation. They then employ skilled individuals to manage their budgets and get the best deal for patients. So who are these skilled individuals, who have the experience and training to buy and manage this, you guessed it, the people who did the same job for the PCTs. So whats the difference? The difference being that if this new organisation screws up, the government will not guarantee its delivery.
In essence, all that has happened is they have taken the PCT, renamed it, and devolved all the risk. But the reality is that the real risk is to you and I. If this organisation falls, then its our families who will suffer when we don’t get treatment. How long will it take for another consortium (of presumably the same GPs, as there are only a few) together. When you consider that Quedgeley is already vastly over subscribed for places, how is this going to deliver more effective health provision that what we already do.
Then take the RDAs, what has happened here? Has there been a radical rethink of how we do business, nope, all we have done is take out an overall coordination and people talking to each other. But all the functions will now be carried out elsewhere. For Gloucester, as the Prime Minister reminded Mr Graham, this means we could lose control of some buildings that would have been really useful. By the fact that they have just moved a lot of the functions elsewhere, means that actually the RDA was useful and doing a sensible function! So why get rid of it if we still need it? What we will get now is a lot of local serious planning decisions based on a NIMBY attitude.
As for Marketing Gloucester and GHURC, who or what will happen to these, or more importantly the function they do? Will the City Council pull its finger out and actually take some responsibility for the City, instead of just looking after waste disposal? Oh hold on, we can’t, as they are making all the staff redundant and those remaining are so demotivated after taking a 5% pay cut, then that’s not going to work either.
Name changes and movement of functions to a “renamed” organisation will not work, they may save cash in the very short-term, but we will suffer and pay for it for a long time to come.
Now, more than ever, we need leadership from the City Council. They need to realise that the best source of income in a recession (or recession type) environment is small business as they are agile enough to react quickly. This supports bigger business too and gives them the space to work and adapt its business for the future. They need to be shouting about Gloucester from the rooftops about us as a tourist destination. More than ever, they need to look at how best to pull residents together to get a common pulse of pride, making the most of local communities and yoking their strengths together.
Yes its tough times, but it is also the time to make a serious change in the way the council thinks and works for us to come out of this fighting and not just limping along. Without this leadership, localism is worthless and will not bring forward a strong Gloucester community to grow in the future.