Published by Andrew Haldenby on 17 November 2015
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Reform publishes “Delivering the new Government’s health agenda” conference brochure, with articles from Andy Goldney, Dr Justin Whatling, Ian Williamson, Chris Walters, Baroness Barbara Young, Dr David Rosser, Professor Steve Field CBE, Dr Penny Dash, Claire Murdoch and Dr Chris Roseveare.
The NHS has entered a new era of change defined by The Five Year Forward View. Arguably the most important health service report since the Wanless Review, it’s an unequivocal statement of reform. Recognising the mismatch between modern healthcare demand and the NHS’ traditional model of delivery, it recommends a radical course of action. It demands the health service integrate across boundaries, via a programme of New Models of Care, achieve a “radical upgrade” in prevention, and transform provider efficiency. Failure to deliver, it says, will leave the NHS facing a funding gap of more than £20 billion by the end of the Parliament.
The outcome of the general election confirmed this is the way forward for the NHS. The Government has endorsed and funded the Forward View. Moreover, since taking office, the Government has adopted an ambitious reforming tone and announced a series of initiatives of their own. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, recently outlined a 25-year vision for the health service based on harnessing the power of technology. A new deal for primary care, including 5,000 new GPs, has been announced. The Prime Minister has made delivering a seven day NHS a personal priority.
This is the Government’s new health agenda. Reform is delighted to hold this conference in partnership with Cerner, Baxter Healthcare Ltd and McKinsey & Company to consider how to take this programme forward.
Our first session will address a recurring theme in health reform – integration. On his reappointment as Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt said his “biggest priority now is to transform care outside hospitals”. Integration must now bear fruit. The Government’s devolution agenda, designed to facilitate service integration, will be vital. Policymakers around the country will be watching the progress of “Devo-Manc”.
Competition and centrally set targets used to be the levers of NHS reform. Now it is transparency and data. Our second session will explore how shining a light on poor performance will drive a more patient-centred, high quality and cost-effective NHS. History suggests this will be a significant challenge for the health service. For the NHS to “plagiarise” at scale, the spread of new learning will not come from centre. Successful and continuous improvement will most likely be driven from local solutions based on the actual needs of patients.
Our final panel will explore how the NHS can deliver better access for patients and quality of care through a seven day service. The largest number of critically ill patients turn up to hospitals at the weekend when services are least able to handle them. The Government is right to want to address these variations in care. However many have raised concerns, warning that seven day care would mean additional costs for hospitals already in financial distress and further increasing the workload of GPs.
The Government, and NHS leaders, are right to be radical. The healthcare status quo is no longer sustainable. Due to its historically rising budget the NHS has, to some extent, been insulated from the need to deliver real efficiency. The task now is to rectify this by delivering a step change in productivity, while simultaneously expanding and improving services.