One of the issues that seems to be hindering the NHS is the belief that the structures currently in place, both organisational and financial, are preventing the creation of a collaborative, patient centred system which offers the chance to deliver improved quality with improved productivity.
Granted we can argue that every organisation has a responsibility to achieve financial balance. However it is not the only requirement on NHS organisations. The real duty of every organisation is to deliver the best it can for it's customers, be they stakeholders, shareholders, paying clients or non fee paying service users.
The NHS has two blind spots, one is the payors, this Americanism translates to the commissioners, and the other is the service user, in our case the patients. Hospitals, practices, community trusts all forget that they have payors, commissioners who have an expectation of value and performance and instead focus on being the best organisation that they can. Although I don't believe we have a total blind spot for patients we often don't accord them the true status of customers, i.e having choice, power or purchase and a right to expect good service.
Is there a fix for this dichotomy, good organisation and good patient service?
The answer I believe is almost certainly, yes.
Commercial organisations can deliver financial success, efficiency and value. They also deliver customer focus and survive in harsh competitive environments. In that world view it seems obvious that competition is the answer to the NHS.
However if a commercial provider wanted to be the best it could, deliver most value it would also seek to expand it's market, it's influence. Examples such as Facebook, show a service provider who is now partnering with Spotify and other media providers to improve the range of services and value to it's users. Amazon achieved similar benefits when it bought out Audible to enable customers to choose printed, e-book and audio versions of it's products.
So it would seem that acquisition, alliance and collaboration is also the answer.
In the new NHS we now need an understanding of when to choose collaboration, competition or merger as the right blade on the NHS Swiss army knife.