Paper Tigers and Toothless Lions

There is no doubt that health and social care has gone through a vast amount of changes over the last 10 or 20 years and most of us would agree that some change is necessary. But when our leader of politics becomes so dogmatic about such changes one cannot help wondering who the changes are actually going to benefit.

Most of us would also agree that we would like a more efficient and effective health and social care service, delivered in our own locality when we need it. Some exemptions are reasonable like having to travel a bit further for the very specialised services that can only be based centrally.

As professionals however, we are bombarded with a constant information overload of new laws, guidelines and evidence base for our practice almost every day, much of which we neither have the time to read or digest. Is it any wonder therefore that underneath this mountain of documents and new policies that professionals must too sometimes question what it is that they are supposed to be actually doing?

As a witness to such changes in practice over the last 20 years I would suggest that many of the new policies, guidelines and even laws, are paper tigers i.e. not very effective at what they are supposed to achieve. Furthermore many of the staff out there in practice including managers, are simply toothless lions who do not have the resources (teeth) to implement the changes. They will be forced to do it of course under the political guise of devising a new law to make them. However in reality this will mean robbing Peter to pay Paul, particularly under the austerity measures that have already been inflicted upon them.

So while political leaders can put on a brave face and agree to ‘take the hit’ that they get over trying to force such changes through they should consider the ethical implications of their actions. Do they really want to improve health and social care for the everyday person on the street or are they simply demonstrating their power in the ability to make changes? If I were a political leader I would be questioning my political and ethical stance right now and considering whether I was really wanting to improve health and social care or simply contributing to creating another paper tiger for the toothless lions to choke on.

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