Is the NHS close to finalising a new forward plan that will create a clear roadmap? You’ve heard those words before but this time maybe it’s serious…
All the NHS key stakeholders (patient groups, care professionals and national leadership) appear to be uniting behind this new “manifesto” ahead of an inevitably long trail towards May 2015. So that must mean concerted action, right?
But you know the extent of austerity will bite deeper in the coming five years. So an agreed plan for the NHS over that period has got to be a good thing. What we all need is a plan for more financially sustainable health service. And maybe an entity that better adopts some of OUR norms, as both patients and taxpayers. We are all (generally) both of these things at some time in our lives.
So what would the plan need to look like to satisfy the Treasury?
That notoriously unemotional body would likely seek a plan that would reflect the reality of current pressures on public services. It would probably look for more services for less. It would probably look for evidence that we can better join up things that are not currently joined up in order to reduce waste.
It would probably also tell us to prevent spending in the first place by not being so unhealthy (that inequality in life expectancy between rich/poor; jogger/couch potato; pie/salad thing).
They would probably also look for a fundamental redesign of how NHS services are provided, liking citing the boundaries of GP / hospital care, physical / mental health services, health / social care.
That’s the sort of thing those Treasury beancounters would probably like to say to us all.
And they would also have something to say about long-term NHS finances and benchmark us with other industrialised countries.
Like all health services around the world, increasing and ageing population mean the need to find more funding year in year.
So you know that addressing all these things will be hard. Very hard. Very very hard. It’s probably not an overstatement to say the NHS is about to enter the most challenging period in its near 70 year history. Watch this space.