A complaint I often hear from colleagues is that “the NHS has taken the joy out of medicine”. Modern healthcare delivery is increasingly seen by NHS staff and by patients as an industrial-type activity with strict performance targets. This has resulted in many healthcare professionals feeling that they have lost the much of the flexibility and autonomy that was once a defining characteristic of their professions.
This feeling can also concern patients, as they may feel that they may not be receiving the personalised care and attention that they feel they need. The focus on targets, metrics and finances can create an environment where patients feel they are being treated as numbers rather than as individuals with unique needs and circumstances.
It is important for politicians, NHS managers and clinicians to acknowledge these concerns and work to address them. While performance targets, metrics and financial monitoring are important tools for measuring the effectiveness of healthcare delivery, they should not be the only focus of the NHS. Healthcare professionals must be given the freedom and flexibility to exercise their judgement and provide personalised care to their patients.
The NHS should also work to ensure that patients are seen as individuals with unique needs and circumstances, rather than simply as numbers on a spreadsheet. This can be achieved through providing adequate resources (both financial and personnel) fpr the NHS, better training for healthcare professionals, improved communication with patients, and greater emphasis on patient-centred care.
Ultimately, the goal of the NHS should be to provide high-quality, personalised care to all patients. This requires a shift in mindset away from the purely target-driven approach we often see in today’s NHS towards a more holistic approach that prioritises the needs and well-being of patients and healthcare professionals alike.