Interview with Dr. Hamed Khan

This is a full transcript of an interview from October 9th 2015.

Dr Hamed Khan

Dr. Hamed Khan is a GP, A&E doctor, and has become one of many key NHS figures to talk openly about the problems this junior contract is causing, and representing a new initiative take the health service out of politicians hands.

Firstly thanks for agreeing to talk to me. You’ve been busy. Is it getting any easier getting your message across?

“I think it is. Slowly but surely we’re getting more and more support from the public, politicians and even the parts of the media. Incidentally I was speaking about the NHS deficit on BBC 3 Counties Radio this evening and Roberto Perrone (their lead presenter) told me how he had spoken to various people who thought that the only way to save the NHS by devolving it from political control, and creating some sort of independent commission to look at it, and oversee it in the longer term. What I’m also hearing frequently from both patients and front line professionals is that they feel that politicians are driven by elections and 4 year electoral terms, which hinders their ability- and perhaps motivation- to think about the longer term. And this is why our idea of bringing together the public, front line professionals and patients to think collectively about the NHS, without the limitations of a 4 year electoral term, is gaining so much traction. The idea of a Royal Commission to do this is novel, and new territory for many people- but again the independent nature of this is something that I feel many people find attractive.”

A lot has changed since we first made contact. Was Mr. Hunt’s recent letter a surprise for you?

“We are a large diverse group, and reactions within the group vary. Some of us feel that this is old wine in a new bottle, and that JH is merely putting spin on what is fundamentally no change in his original position. Others feel that it is a sign that he is has- very slowly- started to gain an insight into the level of opposition he faces, and is trying to change his stance and entice the BMA back to the table. We’re reluctant to give a knee jerk reaction, although I think it’s accurate to say that most of us are more skeptical than optimistic. It’s early days and the devil is in the detail. It doesn’t help that in the DoH appears to be very inaccessible, and reluctant to participate in any media discussions and debates. I’ve spoken to several journalists from numerous TV channels who have expressed deep frustration at the reluctance and refusal of DoH officials to appear and debate with front line professionals. It is understandably that many of us perceive this as a lack of openness that reflects the weakness of their arguments.”

And seems to be a reluctance to be transparent or accessible reflected in the delayed publications of the NHS deficit figures until after the Tory Party Conference.

“Well it certainly gives that perception. One thing that is clear from all this is that the way the DOH has managed its communications has been confrontational and deeply undiplomatic. The disconnect and disengagement has escalated to a highly charged emotive confrontation and what many people see almost as a state of war! Whatever the arguments, this breakdown of relations cannot be conducive to any constructive or purposeful discussions and progress.”

You mentioned that more are skeptical than optimistic and I can understand why. I’m going to play devils advocate for a minute. Do you think Hunt’s letter is a trap? My wife is a GP and we both went through it thoroughly. From where i sit he could easily back Jnr docs in to a corner with this. If he’s making concessions on the 48 hr working week, and therefore preserving patient care by making sure doctors are less tired, but Jnr docs still strike over the contract, he’ll be able to say that the strike is in fact all about pay.

“But he isn’t. The key safeguard was that trusts were fined if doctors breached the EWTD (Early Working Time Directive). He hasn’t addressed that in his letter. Rather he’s given a vague assurance that doctors won’t. But that’s meaningless without a disincentive for trusts. At the moment trusts are fined if doctors work more hours than allowed by the EWTD. My understanding is that trusts will not have to record doctors hours- and thus will not be fined if their doctors work beyond the EWTD.”

Explains part of the deficit at least. You’re fighting for an independent body for the NHS. What is needed to make this a reality and get politics out of the health service? What can the public do to help with this?

“Public support and awareness is the most important thing. We want members of the public to join us and participate in helping us run the organisation and direct it. The only funding we receive at the moment is, in essence, through crowd funding- that is the other important way in which the public can help us. Other than this, we’re trying to gain traction and support from politicians and major think tanks and academics. A number of MPs have responded very positively to our idea, and we are talking to them. As have several influential academics. For example I recently spoke to Nigel Edwards, the Chair of the Nuffield Trust, and he told me that he fully supported our vision and ethos.”

I see you have also gained the attention of Lib Dems Norman Lamb. He’s been quite vocal recently about the problems in the NHS.

“We’re delighted that he has been vocal in calling for essentially the same thing we have bwpid-screenshot_2015-10-22-21-53-36-1.pngeen calling for. And having someone speak openly with the level of insight and experience he has reflects the strength of our arguments and our ultimate aims and vision.”

You can follow Dr. Khan on Twitter by clicking on the picture.

The movement Dr. Khan talks about and represents is called NHS Survival. You can find out more and show your support for a National Health Service removed from political control at www.nhssurvival.org.

NHSSurvival

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One thought on “Interview with Dr. Hamed Khan

  1. Pingback: Don’t let The Good Ship NHS sink. | stephenpaulblanchard

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