Some weeks ago I signed an online petition requesting better treatment/diagnosis of thyroid disease - this was automatically forwarded to my MP. He apparently passed it on to the Minister of Health, who in turn forwarded it to the Minister of State for Care and Support. The following is the reply received by my MP:
“We want to make the NHS among the best in Europe at supporting people with ongoing health problems, such as thyroid or thyroid-related conditions. However, the issues Ms F. raises are the responsibility of NHS England. We have therefore asked NHS England to make measurable progress in improving outcomes for people with long-term conditions, by making the NHS more responsive to their needs. NHS England is an independent arm’s length body that is now responsible for overseeing the provision and commissioning of services, and is held to account by the Secretary of State for Health.
Our ambition on long-term conditions is set out in the mandate between the Government and NHS England, which was published on 13 November, and requires NHS England to measure its progress against the outcomes in the NHS Outcomes Framework. Domain 2 of the Framework seeks to capture how the NHS is supporting people with long-term conditions to live as normal a life as possible. This will be measured using three outcomes:
•people feeling supported to manage their condition - this measures how well the NHS as a whole is doing in supporting people to look after themselves and handle the consequences of their conditions;
•functional ability - this measures how well the person is able to live as normal a life as possible, and a focus on employment is concordant with the Government’s wider policies about getting people back to work; and
•reduced time spent in hospital - this measures how successfully the NHS manages the condition(s) by looking at unnecessary hospital admissions and excessive length of stay.
It will be the responsibility of NHS England to determine how to deliver the outcomes in the Framework. Ms F. may therefore wish to raise her concerns with NHS England.”
This is my reply to my MP:
Dear Mr Baker
Thank you for your letter of 19 August enclosing a response from the Minister of State for Care and Support.
In your last paragraph you express your hope that this is helpful. I have to say, it is not. I have seen a number of political non-replies in my time, but this has to be one of the worst. Not only does Norman Lamb fail to address my concerns, but the message that emerges from his cliches, gobbledegook and meaningless platitudes is that this is nothing to do with him.
I rather naively thought that health issues were the responsibility of the Department of Health and not "an independent arm's length body". What is this? It sounds alarming, and I would be most grateful for a definition of the term, and an explanation of who or what it comprises.
The letter refers to measuring three outcomes, not one of which mentions restoring the patient to health. This is quite simply outrageous, and leaves me wondering what the NHS is for.
I would appreciate your further comments.