Letter: Speedier treatment on the NHS

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The Independent Online
Sir: Clifford Graham, in his obituary (29 March) of Sir Roy Griffiths, the inventor of health service 'reform', writes that 'in the late 1980s, Griffiths was proud to demonstrate that 'it took a grocer (he came from Sainsbury's) to teach a grocer's daughter the difference between price and cost'.

Alas that there was no one there to demonstrate to the two of them that medicine is not grocery, that a hospital is not a supermarket, that a GP's surgery is not a corner shop, and that 'the people in charge' should, in each case, be the responsible professional: the surgeon, the anaesthetist, the charge nurse, whoever. Anyone who thinks it has to be a 'manager' should go back whence he came.

Griffiths also believed, according to the obituary, that 'manpower is simply a function of management', which showed indeed that he was one of Thatcher's 'one of us': 'manpower' is the same kind of thing as 'horsepower' and 'water power'. You use it as 'management' decides and that's it; there is nothing special about it.

There is no such thing as 'society', is there? And people who aren't 'one of us' don't quite count as 'people' at all - a pity they have votes. Better think of them all as 'consumers' - as Mr Waldegrave was recommending last year when charged with the 'democratic deficit' in the rise of quangos and decline in elected local government.

Yours faithfully,

ELIZABETH YOUNG

London, W2

30 March

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