Hospitals in the new health service

As Albert Einstein wrote if you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got. This is true of healthcare. If the UK is to do the right thing for patients and improve value for money in health services then new ways of delivering health services are needed.

Health services are changing. Health systems around the world are gearing up to shift care out of hospitals and into the community. Modern health care requires hospital and bed numbers to fall. But as well as shifting care out of hospitals, hospital services themselves need to be transformed. With fewer hospitals the ability of technology and competition to drive up standards and productivity will become even more important. Hospitals will need to make unprecedented increases in productivity.

The NHS occupies a unique place in British politics. Party leaders proclaim their lifelong love of it, MPs vow to fight for their local hospitals, but few dare spell out the difficult realities it faces not least, unprecedented pressure on funding in the next few years. Political denial is doing no one any favours. It is time to have an honest debate on hospitals in the new health service.

On 6 December 2010 around 100 delegates, from politics, public service, business and the third sector, and representing all major political parties, listened to and debated the presentations of ten speakers. This provided the chance to hear the views of a range of leading figures and organisations and, in turn, provided these people with the opportunity to receive questions directly from a range of delegates.

Speakers were:

  • Earl Howe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health
  • Liz Kendall MP, Shadow Health Minister
  • Norman Lamb MP, Chief Parliamentary and Political Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister.
  • Christine Connelly, Chief Information Officer, Department of Health
  • Dr Peter Carter OBE, Chief Executive and General Secretary, Royal College of Nursing
  • Hannah Farrar, Director of Strategy and Commissioning Development, NHS London
  • Alan Fowles, Vice President and General Manager, Cerner UK and Ireland
  • Sally Gainsbury, News Editor, Health Service Journal
  • Professor Steve Smith, Chief Executive, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Matthew Swindells, Vice President, Global Consulting, Cerner

A booklet containing think pieces from some speakers was published with the summit. Presentations and question and answer sessions during the day were recorded. This report contains a copy of the agenda of the day, the booklet that accompanied it and the transcripts of the discussions.