Entrepreneurs helping communities through innovation
Andrew's contribution to the Health and Social Care Bill
Posted at 3:20pm 12th October, 2011
My Lords, I am a social entrepreneur who, for 25 years, has danced with the dinosaur-
While many colleagues will have a lot to say about the new proposed structures in primary care, I will make a few simple but fundamental points that appear to have been overlooked. In my experience, trying to change very large organisations-
In a culture where people are increasingly, through the use of technology, living in an integrated world where at the push of a button many choices present themselves, it will be difficult for this new generation of entrepreneurial GPs to create a flexible structure and innovative culture in the NHS, which is still dominated by silos and an ideology of health inequalities-
The entrepreneur Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, who has just died knew that technology can be the way into culture change and his technology has created a wholly new generation who no longer want silo-
I would like humbly to suggest a few small simple innovations that the GPs I work with inform me could make an enormous difference to both practice and culture as we seek to push the NHS forward. I have found that the way into large, seemingly immovable structures and organisations, as an entrepreneur, is often through small, simple things that make a big difference. I therefore ask the Minister the following simple, but vital, questions. First, why has the iPad not been used in hospitals and by GP practices and district nurses as a simple integrated communications tool? Secondly, why is it that a GP in Tower Hamlets cannot Skype a consultant in the London Hospital with the patient by their side? Everyone is increasingly using Skype in the real world to communicate and it is free. My medical colleagues tell me that 99 per cent of their patients see no problem with confidentiality rules. We need to remove a system and ideology that makes simple, obvious tasks so complicated. Thirdly, why is it that chest X-
I am a great supporter of the Government’s decision to go local, but as an entrepreneur I know, as do my GP colleagues, that there is a whole raft of things that do not need to be developed in every part of the country. It is too expensive and unnecessary. I am told that there is a whole raft of rules stopping the modernisation of the NHS. When innovators like me attempted to cut through these rules in East London in some of the poorest housing estates in Britain, I was told by some at the time that the sky would fall in. It did not and the offer to patients improved. This institution desperately needs innovators, not more bureaucrats.
My colleagues and I are attempting at this time to build a new health centre in one of the most difficult housing estates in London-
How do we make the simple things happen that catalyse the changes that are necessary and make it worth coming to work for? How do we modernise the NHS and give GPs the tools to do it? I suggest that some of this is about enabling them to just use the simple tools of technology that you and I use every day. It is about giving civil servants permission to get behind innovators.
I would like to leave your Lordships with a final clue. Steve Jobs at Apple did not go around asking all his customers what they wanted. He did not consult them to death. He believed that if the product was good enough for him, it was good enough for them. The real test for those who oppose this Bill is: would you walk into the average inner city London GP practice and register yourself as a patient? Would you as a patient rank the quality of care provided there as high? If the answer to these two questions is no, then you need to embrace change within the NHS. Jobs achieved what few politicians do. He embraced entrepreneurship and innovation and created real and sustainable change. He focused on creating small innovations in technology that worked well, and then offered them to the world. On his sick bed, he showed a commitment and attention to detail that I have yet to see in many politicians and civil servants. The easiest way into the NHS impasse is simply to back those GPs and nurses who are not threatened by this new emerging world but who embrace it and grasp it with both hands.
We must back the innovators with a sense of purpose. Learn from those who make change happen. Is change going to be difficult? Will this Government get some things wrong? Yes. Innovation is always like that. The question is: can the organisation learn from mistakes? Can it learn by doing? Can it start walking instead of talking? You cannot hold back the ocean; let it flow.
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