NHS change will be delivered through burning ambition, not fear of a burning platform.
These are the words of the head of the NHS Confederation, who has called on health and care leaders to use “this watershed year for the NHS” to step away from the burning platform approach to delivering the essential changes needed in the health service.
In his speech at the NHS Confederation’s 2014 conference, new CEO Rob Webster said that for too long NHS reform has been driven by a desire to avoid disaster scenarios such as overstretched services, long waits, and financial failure.
He said the fear-driven approach to change does not motivate improvement, and that it is time the health service sets a new tone for change, which creates a burning ambition for reform and improvement, and allows hope to flourish.
Webster said: “I’m sick of the burning platform. I’m sure you are, and I’m sure your staff are. Let’s ditch it. If we try to deliver change by focusing only on the worst-case scenario, the situation that we actually want to avoid, we will motivate people to move, but only to move away.
“What we need is to harness the energies of the people who make the NHS what it is – the 1.3 million health service staff, the 1 million in social care, the 3 million volunteers who work alongside us each year, the 7 million carers who are a fundamental part of the team – to move towards the reality we want to deliver for the people we serve, the patients we care for and the populations we cover.”
Webster set out the NHS Confederation’s ‘key asks’ of policy makers and politicians, and of national bodies that impact on the health and care sector.
– Commitment to a ‘decade deal’, which clarifies funding for the NHS over the coming 10 years
– A substantial ‘transition fund’ of at least £2 billion, which can support the movement to new, sustainable models of integrated care
– Delivery of genuine parity of esteem between mental and physical health, including extending the same rights on access and choice to mental health service users as those which apply to physical health care and treatment
– Accelerating the reform of the NHS payment system to support better direction of funding to where it is needed
– ‘Unblocking’ the foundation trust pipeline, and focusing on the creation of sustainable health and social care systems rather than on one governance model
– Supporting improved sharing of information
– Driving forward genuine co-commissioning, rather than obsessing over contract management
Webster challenged health service leaders to improve how they engage with their own workforce, and to ‘upskill’ their staff by ensuring health organisations’ boards implement the Berwick report’s recommendations on improving skills at every staff level.
He also called on the health and care sector to use the commissioning system more effectively to deliver better health outcomes, and to ensure public health is taken into account in all local decision making.