Have you written your manifesto yet?

So by the time you read this we should know who will be leading the government for the next term of office. Personally I struggled to initiate any enthusiasm to decide where my vote should go. The main parties’ manifestos were seriously lacking in substance; although the National Health Action Party (NHA) and a new emerging sort of political party called ‘Something New’ had more interesting things to say.

This blog is not about supporting a particular political party as such but more about reflection on the challenges facing health and social care and some personal reflections. I will say though that both of these parties made challenges where it mattered it seemed to me. ‘Something New’ invited the public to contribute to an ‘open public’ manifesto. How refreshing and interesting. I always like new things. They also talk about:

• Optimism – we will make a better future by working together
• True democracy – where everyone's input is taken into account
• Rational decision making based on sound evidence
• Decentralised power and control
• Working together as a species to solve the really big problems
• Civil liberties and human rights – the marks of a civilised society
• Public ownership of essential services and assets
• The elimination of poverty and want, through strong social safety nets

Perhaps too ideological but an enjoyable read in any case.

But it did make me think about the idea behind manifestos and about the issues facing the NHS. Wikipedia states that a manifesto is a 'public declaration of policy and aims, intentions and motives’ ……... Really? I have always linked manifestos to political parties but have never really thought that their motives were genuine, more questionable maybe.

The main issue facing the NHS is how we protect it and make sure it is fit for the 21st century. But, with funding deficits in health and social care budgets, an ageing population and the issues around TTIP and consistent regulation, this will be a difficult task for any political party. So honesty and being genuine must prevail. We can all see the operational issues on a day-to-day basis against the backdrop to transform those same services. I mentioned determination and spirit in my previous blog and we will need an abundance of that!

My intentions would probably look like this (some more difficult to achieve than others!)

• Keep values at the heart of what we do and think about how we care
• Have a ‘whole approach’ to patient, staff and teams
• Avoid labels and tokenistic efforts
• Challenge behaviours that are not ok
• Aim for a collective vision held by all not just the few
• Consider the real value in any change
• Always consider lessons learned
• Lead, act and think with integrity and consistency
• Be honest, be a critical friend
• Celebrate efforts made.

So, bearing all this in mind, what would your manifesto look like?

Kelly Abel, Head of Workforce for the Cancer Programme at Guy's and St Thomas's Foundation NHS Trust

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