Politicians must be candid about the need to change the way care is delivered and bold enough to make the tough choices required to secure the long term future of health and care, 23 health and care bodies representing patients, doctors, nurses, therapists, local government and managers are warning.
The 2015 Challenge: Our prescription for the election emphasises the importance of political leadership, alongside health and care leadership, in helping secure change. Politicians must work in partnership with the public, patients, clinicians and other local leaders to ensure changes secure the best possible health outcomes and sustainable services, rather than blocking necessary change.
The 12-page document welcomes progress by politicians and national “arms-length” bodies, such as NHS England, since the 2015 Challenge Manifesto was launched in September 2014. This document sets out a number of next steps both the political parties and arms-length bodies should take over the coming weeks, as local teams respond to the unprecedented pressures on the health and care system.
The 23 organisations are also calling for every party’s manifesto to reflect four main issues:
- Avoid yet another top down, large scale NHS structural reorganisation, and give local areas the stability required to make progress on vital work to reshape care.
- Prioritise reducing preventable illness and maintaining wellbeing.
- Detail concrete plans to make mental health services as accessible as physical health services by the end of the next parliament.
- Commit to adequate funding for health and social care.
The 23 organisations are committed to work in partnership with these bodies to help create the right conditions for local leaders to reshape care and deliver the billions of pounds of efficiency savings required.
Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents more than 500 NHS organisations and brought together the 2015 Challenge coalition, said: “Pressures on the health and care system have never been greater. To improve care and tackle these pressures we need to radically reshape services around people’s needs and aspirations.
“We will only succeed in this task if the next Government and national arms-length bodies put in place the right conditions for our members to succeed. The significant steps towards this by national bodies and the political parties in recent months are very welcome, but given the huge scale of the challenges more progress is urgently needed.
“Many politicians have talked about the kind of changes to care we set out in the 2015 Challenge, for example, more supported self-care programmes and care being offered in places other than hospitals with health and care professionals working in different ways with patients and families. As the election approaches, we now need all candidates to play their part in a constructive debate about how to ensure health and care services are sustainable and deliver the best possible outcomes for people. If necessary change is blocked, the funding gap will increase and people’s care will suffer.”
With arms-length health and care bodies’ role now more important than ever, the document also sets out five key areas where more progress is needed from these bodies, including faster development of a new payment system to support more joined up care.
Webster added: “We also need honesty about the resources needed. The Five Year Forward View gives a start by saying the NHS will need at least £8bn extra as well as funding earmarked for changing services. This must be matched by adequate social care funding and the reform which is needed to free up £22bn of efficiencies, otherwise the whole system could become unsustainable.”
The joint report is backed by the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges, The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Age UK, Association of Directors of Public Health, Asthma UK, British Heart Foundation, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management, Healthcare Financial Management Association, Institute of Healthcare Management, Local Government Association, Macmillan Cancer Support, National Association of Primary Care, National Voices, NHS Clinical Commissioners, NHS Confederation, NHS Providers, Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Royal College of Practitioners, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Physicians, Royal Society for Public Health and Scope.