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When GP Business met Burnham

When GP Business met Burnham

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After the Health and Social Care Act’s long and torturous journey through parliament, I wasn’t sure what I would encounter when meeting with Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham.

Would he still be bruised and bloodied from the fight? Or would he be back full of renewed vigor, ready to do battle once again?

Whichever it was, I hoped we could move the conversation on from Westminster, as now is surely the time for looking ahead to untangling and demystifying the legislation, not wrangling over whether it should be on the statute book or not.

Led into his large (messy) office in Portcullis House, Burnham was instantly warm and friendly with none of the pomp and circumstance sometimes attributed to MPs.

He seemed in a good mood – which admittedly could have been down to the sunshine blaring through his office – and relaxed. If he was still beaten down from losing the ‘drop the bill’ campaign in parliament, it didn’t show.

Flanked by three of his special advisors, Burnham is still angry about the Act. As predicted, he rattled off the same criticisms with the same intent as he had done in the Commons months earlier.

While exhausted from listening to the same old tired buzzwords…..privitisation/fragmentation/intergration (to name but a few), I had to hand it to him, he was not going to take defeat lightly.

He insisted he is committed to repealing the Act but not to another top down reorganisation of the NHS.

Yet, despite his resistance to working with the legislation, Burnham is looking forward and seems genuinely excited about the opportunity he has in front of him to develop a policy to meet the major challenges facing the NHS.

What was clear from our interview is that Burnham is ready to listen – something NHS workers and members of the public are craving thanks to their dealings with the sometimes defensive current Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

While it is bound to be a crowd-pleasing approach, it could also be a dangerous one. By allowing input into his health policy by all and sundry, it is likely to become fractured and disjointed.

Communication and trust is also needed if you are going to win the hearts and minds of NHS works. Burnham must keep control of his policy direction if he wants to be back in the NHS driving seat come 2015.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH SHADOW HEALTH SECRETARY ANDY BURNHAM IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF GP BUSINESS. SIGN UP HERE TO RECEIVE A FREE COPY.

 

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