Climatic Change in NHS Values – What Happens “The Day After Tomorrow”?

The 5th event organised by the Think About Health Network was held at the University of Birmingham’s Hornton Grange on Saturday the 16th of July 2011 and aimed to discuss wider issues arising from current proposed changes to the structure of the NHS. Whilst many of us are familiar with the arguments concerning the commercialisation of provision of NHS services, the conference attempted to consider the effects on the country as a whole.

The conference debated a challenging premise: that the latest drive to put the market at the heart of healthcare could lead to a crucial ‘tipping point’ not only in the provision of services but in the shared ethical beliefs of the wider population; that public sector services are a custodian of public morals that “anchor” beliefs about shared responsibility and mutual support for all members of society and that compromising this anchorage could have implications for society as a whole.

The conference consisted of an open discussion amongst interested individuals across a number of areas about their place in the current scheme, where they think the future is taking them and society as a whole, and what it means for each of us.


The conference included papers from:

Julia McKeown

Julia has 20 years’ experience as an NHS Manager, both in provider units and in commissioning. She is Company Director of Fulcrum JRC Limited, a healthcare interim management company. She is co-author of What Are The Values of NHS Managers & Have They Changed Since 1983? having an academic background in theology. In recent years she has operated a parallel career in the private sector in the retail, auction and art world. Her interests include working practices and values across the public and private sector.

Julia’s paper, The Efficiency Illusion, considered what adopting private sector values may mean to the public sector.

Val Iles

Val is an independent academic consultant in the field of health management, working with a number of universities and organisations across the NHS. Through her writing, teaching and facilitation she aims to introduce people to powerful ideas from a wide range of fields. She is currently director of the RCGP leadership programme, honorary senior lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and fellow of the Centre for Leadership Studies at the University of Exeter.

Val’s Has the Public Sector been captured by the vested interests of economists? considered the charge of economists that public services have been captured by the vested interests of producers – or whether they have in fact been captured by the vested interests of economists themselves.

Dr. J Calinas

Joao qualified in medicine in Portugal over 20 years ago and is now a GP in Lambeth, after a decade as a GP in Nottinghamshire. Along with an interest in Pain Management, he has been engaged with the Philosophy of Medicine for over 12 years, being involved with several entities discussing the philosophical foundations of medical practice. His main interests are the role of the concept of freedom in healthcare practice and the politics of the medical encounter.

Joao’s Actions vs. outcomes as 'the' vehicle for moral value in healthcare was a reflection on the moral framework on the nature of humanity, health and the scope of the 'materia medica', organised around the virtue vs utilitarian debate, and the views of Canguilhem, Borse and Nordenfelt.

Andrew Edgar

Andrew is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Cardiff University and director of Cardiff's Centre for Applied Ethics. He has written widely on the philosophy of medicine, and been involved in research projects on QALYs, on chronic illness and on dignity and aging. He is editor of the journal Health Care Analysis.

In The Big Society & the NHS, Andrew discussed the concept of ‘the Big Society’ and the 'Red Toryism' of the political philosopher and theologian Phillip Blond.