The quote is variously attributed to Steven Turner or Laurence Peter (author of the Peter Principle) and, rather like Hegel, questions society’s progress with its failure to learn lessons from the past.
As I was compiling the post on the NHS as a Communist society I discovered an archive the BBC have posted of interviews with various politicians and physicians around the time of institution of the NHS. In one, Aneurin Bevan, one of the architects gives a quick summary of where the service is in 1949, one year after its inception. Please have a listen.
The most telling phrase is,
“most shortcomings revealed (in the service) are not the result of intrinsic defects of the service itself but because of the overwhelming volume of need.”
Can’t you just hear Mr Balls, the current Health Secretary saying that too?
The original needs of the NHS have been met and there is no doubting the fact that our Nation’s health has been dramatically improved since that time. What is clear however is that despite all the finance poured in since that time there still remains an overwhelming volume, if different need.
This is the challenge of the modern NHS and what is required of both managers and clinical leaders is to manage those limited resources equally amongst all to deliver the best care possible. Whether this is achieved is the debate we must all be involved with. This is the interface between physicians and clinical management.
History will repeat itself if no-one listens to the stories of the past. What lessons have we learnt?