A former Chief Executive of the NHS says Theresa May should write a new scriptby Nigel Crisp / May 11, 2018 / Leave a comment
The NHS’s 70th birthday is being greeted by the same old arguments about money (costs, rationing and sources of funding) and hospitals (A&E waits, postponed surgery, and bed-blocking). This script, sadly, was written for the last big anniversary and the one before it.
These are very important and increasingly urgent issues. But there are others that must also be addressed. I would start with three questions—what do we want the UK’s health system to achieve? How does the NHS need to change? And who needs to be involved in making it happen? Let us examine them in turn.
Clearly, we want our health system to promote the health and well-being of the population and provide high quality services when we need them; however, it does more than that. It supports a healthy workforce which in turn supports economic growth. The NHS with its integrated services, training and structure also provides an extraordinarily robust foundation—which is unique globally—for the UK’s bio-medical industrieswhich are already strong and will become increasingly important in our post-Brexit future.
It is noteworthy that South Korea is investing heavily in its health service alongside its bio-medical industry in a bid to become a world leader in health sciences and health related industries. Yet we with our productivity problems and uncertainties about our economic future are letting the NHS decline while seeking other ways to boost productivity and invest in life sciences. Which strategy looks more sensible?
There is surprising consensus in western countries about the way in which health systems need to change to be fit for the future. Put simply, this is a transition from today’s hospital-centred and illness-based system where things are done to or for a patient, to a person-centred and health-based one where citizens are partners in health promotion and health care. It is a transition which will use the latest knowledge and technology and offer access to advice and high quality services in homes and communities as well as clinics and specialist centres.
“It is good to know that the prime minister is finally taking an interest in health, but she needs a new script and strategy”
The NHS policy is to move in this direction, but it is happening very slowly and is all too often hampered by dis-investment in community services—one of the reasons why hospitals are…