The increasing turmoil in the NHS in the 1990s led Dr Khong to design a new health system that connected the public and the medical professions more effectively. The criteria and benefits sought for the project were a reduction of administrative bureaucracy, a revival of professional morale, improved accountability and efficiency, enhancement of patient choice and care, and a reconsideration of the role of government in healthcare delivery.
In June 2000, a document outlining the framework for change was sent to Mr Tony Blair, then Prime Minister, and Mr William Hague, then Opposition Leader, respectively. Encouraged by support from patients and colleagues alike, a test-bed for the proposals of a new health system was initiated. It has three major components.
Universal ownership of healthcare as direct empowerment of the public is the first component. A GP-centred scheme that was to be the fore-runner of a community-based patient health fund was set up with the backing of AIG. The Daily Telegraph featured an article ("The NHS with a silver lining" - 15th July 2002) of this project, which was to form the first component for the proposed health system. In commending the public objectives of the scheme, the President of the BMA challenged the government to explore new ways of funding the NHS. The Independent General Practitioners’ Association welcomed the initiative for its potential to increase the plurality of healthcare provision.
The second component of the proposed health system is a patient-responsive provider configuration for healthcare delivery. Some key recommendations were presented to the BMA Working Party on Medical Chambers and proposals for their implementation were discussed with Oliver Heald MP, then Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health. As a consequence, a group of specialists were invited to form themselves into the Leicestershire Medical Chambers, while the Leicestershire Health Consortium of GPs was established in response to legislation that introduced practice-based commissioning.
The third component addresses the accessibility to and uniformity of healthcare services regardless of geographical location. The aim of this part of the project was to develop adaptable pathways that would reduce health inequalities. A community clinic to augment NHS provisions in the centre of Leicester city was trialled, and its success was additional evidence that the public want to exercise their preferences in health.
The proposed new health system was presented at the Policy Forum on Health convened at LeicesterUniversity in 2003.
Speakers at The Policy Forum on Health
From Left to Right: Dr Geoffrey Lewis, Prof Jim Thornton, Mr Andrew Lansley CBE MP (Shadow Secretary for Health), Dr Teck Khong, Prof Mike Saks (Not in picture: Prof Nick Bosanquet)
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