Media & Press

Norman Lamb MP calls for a radical overhaul of the NHS

Norman Lamb MP today calls for a radical overhaul of the NHS to improve Britain's health service

Speaking at The British Society of Gastroenterology's Annual Meeting in Liverpool, Norman Lamb MP, Liberal Democrat Health spokesman, highlighted the need for "radical decentralisation of power and accountability in the NHS" in order to improve health services and make significant cost savings where possible. He stated:

"If we look at the last financial crisis, all the wrong things were cut as the government went for the 'easy' options such as cutting mental health and staff training. But we have to do it better now and look at redesigning systems to make our money go further."

One area that Mr Lamb addressed was the proliferation of NHS Quangos, referring to them as "a bureaucratic monster in the NHS". In his presentation this morning, he said:

"There is a crazy situation at the moment in which we have five groups looking after patient safety for example, but this has to change. There is an urgent need for radical decentralisation of power and accountability in the NHS as the current system isn't democratically accountable."

He also spoke about the need for reform of financial incentives within the NHS, particularly Payment By Results. He urged for the need to move from a system which rewarded activity to "a system that optimises patient care." Mr Lamb stated that he had seen systems in the USA such as the Veterans Health Administration and Kaiser Permanente where the use of IT and telecare has been used to significantly reduce administration costs in hospitals without jeopardizing patient care.

Another area of concern was the workforce itself. Mr Lamb highlighted:

"The NHS is the 4th largest workforce in the world but all too often it is seen as the problem rather than a solution. I've often found that people don't feel as through they're listened to but dictated to from on high, the recent case of the Mid-Staffordshire is a clear example of this. So we really need to change the culture and attitude and make the NHS something employees are happy to have a stake in."

Mr Lamb also spoke about 'Alcohol Related Diseases-Meeting the challenge of improved quality of care and better use of resources', a report to be published by the British Society of Gastroenterology, the Alcohol Health Alliance UK and British Association for the Study of Liver tomorrow.

"We support the case for minimum pricing of alcohol and believe that this goes some way in addressing problems of cheap alcohol and its availability." He criticised the current government and opposition for not confronting the problem and drew attention to the different approach to illegal drug abuse.

Calling for an approach which based judgements on medical harm he welcomed the forthcoming report from the BSG on alcohol services:

"The BSG's report is a really valuable contribution to the debate with clear evidence as to what best practise should be about. If the BSG can push some of their initiatives forward then I believe we can achieve some fascinating results."

Mr Lamb was invited by The British Society of Gastroenterology to their Annual Meeting to discuss the Liberal Democrats' future vision for Britain's health and comes ahead of an address by Andrew Lansley MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, at the Annual Meeting on Thursday 25th March 2010.


Notes to Editors

The British Society of Gastroenterology's Annual Meeting is taking place at the Liverpool Arena and Convention Centre (ACC) from the 22 - 25 March 2010. The event is expected to attract over 2,500 delegates from around the world, including research scientists, clinicians, nurses, patients and students.

The British Society of Gastroenterology is an organisation focused on the promotion of high standards for clinical services, research, training and education in gastroenterology and hepatology within the UK. It has over three thousand members drawn from the ranks of physicians, surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, scientists, nurses, dietitians, and others interested in the field. Founded in 1937 it has grown from a club to be a major force in British medicine.

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