The very idea of private firms playing such a central role in delivering NHS healthcare as they will in the Lothians will be anathema to many people.
But the reality for most patients is that they simply do not care who provides the service as long as the care on offer lives up to their expectations.
What we all want is high quality care, promptly delivered within a reasonable distance of where we live.
The hard truth is that, right now, in the wake of the recent waiting times scandal, NHS Lothian is failing to live up those expectations.
Today’s plans are a blueprint for putting that right, but are they likely to deliver?
As a short-term fix, it makes sense to ignore the restraints of any political dogma and make use of spare capacity in any local hospitals – whether they be privately or state run – to treat the thousands of patients currently facing long waits. Without outside help, it seems clear right now that the NHS cannot cope with the demands we place upon it.
In the longer term, there needs to be a serious debate about what the NHS can do on its own, the investment needed to achieve that and what role there might be for the private sector.
It is also worth asking whether an hour-and-a-half’s drive is a reasonable distance to travel for treatment? And the answer to that depends on individual circumstances. For most it will be acceptable, but for some who are less able or particularly vulnerable it may be only be practical with extra help and support for them and their families.
That is why the checks and balances that are put in place will be crucial to ensuring the new system delivers for all.
All the best, Jay
To many he still remains “the voice of Edinburgh”.
Jay Crawford has become a true Scottish radio legend over a near 40-year career which has now been cruelly ended. Today, he talks candidly of the condition which has forced him not just to hang up his headphones but turned his whole life upside down. Typical Jay, in his usual upbeat manner he tells us “it could have been worse”.
We wish him and his family all the best for the future and hope for the breakthrough which may mean he can once again listen to The Kinks.