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Lord Darzi: “we need a long-term, innovative approach to our health and care system”

The government must adopt a ‘health in all policies’ approach in order to tackle obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption, an independent review by Lord Darzi urges.

Released to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the NHS, the review reflects on the progress and challenges of the last decade.

Despite austerity, the review finds that the quality of care provided by the health and social care system has been maintained or improved.

Yet it warns that the health and care system are under serious strain with rising demand, growing deficits and workforce pressures.

Lord Darzi also calls for the creation of a digital first health and care system. It says the government needs to invest in the digital infrastructure the NHS needs, enabling data sharing across the health and care system and embracing ‘full automation’ to release more time to care.

The review also says make social care free at the point of need. This means extending the NHS’s ‘need, not ability to pay’ principle to social care and fully funding the service as part of ‘new social contract’ between the citizen and the state.

Lord Darzi of Denham is a Labour peer and was a health minister from 2007-09.

The review was produced in collaboration with the Institute for Public Policy Research, and calls for simplification in the management of the NHS.

National bodies like NHE, NHSI, HEE and PHE should be merged to reate one NHS headquarters, and commissioning functions should be simplified into a single structure – Health and Care Authorities – which would operate at a regional level.

Darzi said: “Looking beyond the Five Year Forward View requires us to take a pragmatic, long-term and innovative approach to health and care. With a growing ageing population, it has never been more important to get the funding and reform right.

“To stand still is to fall back. Now is the moment to embrace change for a better future.”

He also calls for a ‘new deal’ for general practice, mental health and community services – based on improved integration of services.

Commenting on the review, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “We are at a watershed moment for health and social care and it is important the next steps are the right ones.

“Lord Darzi is right to identify significant action is absolutely essential for social care. An Ipsos Mori poll we commissioned recently suggested 82% of the British public backed a spending uplift in this sector.

“Similarly, we agree that systems need to be simplified, locally led and patient centred with care shifted away from hospitals and into the community. In particular there needs to be more investment in primary care. The new long-term funding deal announced by the Prime Minister simply will not work if we carry on doing the same things in the same ways.”

Read the Darzi review.

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