Lord Saatchi is Chairman of the Centre for Policy Studies.
The NHS is meant to be a place of science. Instead, it has become a post-truth world – a swirling cacophony of fake news and alternative facts. The NHS is now the third rail of British politics – touch it and die.
The problem is not whether the NHS is ‘good or bad’. It is that no one agrees on anything. Even those most closely involved cannot agree on whether there is a problem, or, if there is, what it is; or what the solution might be.
Here are 20 different narratives:
We need an honest broker, a peacemaker, to break out of the conflict. We need a Royal Commission into the National Health Service to ensure it is fit for purpose for the next 70 years.
Governments working within the constraints of a five-year electoral cycle cannot risk mooting radical reform of the current system. Only a Royal Commission can do this, as I have argued in my Centre for Policy Studies pamphlet An NHS Royal Commission – from fighting fires to a lasting settlement. A Royal Commission can look dispassionately at the big picture – an ageing population, social care, funding, the growing prevalence of financially draining chronic disease, the impact of poverty on health outcomes, the effects of Brexit on labour supply, the growing cost of innovation and funding.
A Royal Commission’s investigatory powers, and capacity to provide solutions free from the political cycle, can be a game changer. Its recommendations can carry a unique legitimacy and show a way forward that allows the NHS to meet the the challenges of the future and sustain us all for decades to come.