Just the other week I was involved in a session on the options for the future in healthcare. I thought it then and indeed, it’s something I think about a lot – how do we imagine and create a different future? I mean, really imagine.
My son often reminds me how old I am and how very quickly things change. Sublimely those reminders are often about radical developments in health – he is convinced in a few years’ time he’ll be rearing his own pig that holds a spare of any organ he might need. We had a ridiculous conversation yesterday about putting the Christmas bonus out for the binmen and me remembering when they had to cart metal bins from behind the house; ‘but I thought that was in the olden days mum!’ he exclaims. (These new-fangled wheely bins are a very recent invention in my mind and a horrible symbol of how much more waste we all generate.)
We also had a chat about HS2. My view is that it’s an unhelpful application of new technologies. The future should not be about increasing pace but about how radically different our thinking can be. Not; how can we do more quickly and efficiently the thing we do today? But; how do we re-imagine what we can do differently? I am hoping in 20 years’ time we’re not all still carting ourselves up and down the country to business meetings and events, filling up more roads, rails and sky with pointless journeys. I kind of like the idea of having a ‘business avatar’ who I manage remotely in my home who goes to all these business meetings in some virtual world. Remove the need to travel for business at all. It may sound ludicrous but it’s that kind of thing we need to change the way we work (and by the way if anyone invents it you heard it here first!). Travel can then just be something we do for pleasure, and transport can reflect that; trains that don’t do the same miserable experience just slightly shorter – but are moving venues with space to think, play sports, get your hair done – whatever you’d like to spend two hours doing.
In a very creative way these conversations happen time and again on our programmes. Stop worrying about what seems ridiculous now. Don’t limit your thinking and creativity.
We need to think about what it is we are trying to create for our health services and give ourselves permission to think, and dream differently. Spend our money on a new future, not a more brutally dystopian but hugely more efficient version of the one we have now. I’ve seen the people on our programmes, I am confident they can dream of a very different future, one even my son would be happy with!