Healthcare systems across the developed world are in trouble. Changing patterns of disease, an ageing population and advances in drugs and technology feed an inexorable rise in costs outrunning our best efforts to contain them.
At a human level the system is coming under intolerable strain. Demands for cost savings squeeze out the time and humanity needed for good care and quality relationships. Safety suffers. Staff become demoralised, stressed and burned out.
In the first two parts of Humanising Healthcare and focusing on the UK's National Health Service, Dr Hannah explores the fundamental assumptions which have brought us to this point and which likewise inform our current inadequate responses. She dissects the burgeoning regime of regulation and inspection that tries to impose ever tighter controls on a healthcare system that needs to be freed to serve its citizen patients.
In the final part of the book, 'Another Way Is Possible', Dr Margaret Hannah offers a practical alternative strategy based on numerous examples of transformative practice from the UK and around the world. It promises a sustainable culture of healthcare that will enable us all to live healthy, fulfilled lives at a fraction of the current cost.
Chief among Dr Hannah's case studies is the 'Nuka' model of care in
Alaska. Healthcare in the Nuka system is based on reconnecting people into the web of life. Don Berwick, a former health adviser to President Obama and a founder of the highly respected Institute for Healthcare Improvement, has declared that Nuka "is probably the leading example of healthcare redesign in the world. US healthcare suffers from high costs and low quality. This system has reversed that: the quality of care is the highest I have seen anywhere in the world, and the costs are highly sustainable. It's extraordinary. It is surely leading healthcare to its new and proper destination."