Last Tuesday, the Open Road health team hosted their first ever event.
The subject – that vexed issue of NHS reform – has been one of the biggest thorns in the Government’s side since last summer (although I suspect that the last fortnight has made them pine for the days when issues of policy rather hacking dominated the headlines). We wanted to ask two of the men best qualified to talk about the issue – Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell MP and the NHS Confederation’s Mike Farrar – just what was going on, and what impact this was likely to have on the NHS and those that work with it over the next few years.
We’ve written up the panel discussions – downloadable in a handy pdf format on this webpage – for those of you who want some more detail. For those of you who couldn’t join us, we’ve videoed Stephen Dorrell’s opening remarks, and interviewed Mike Farrar and the Guardian’s Michael White . Michael Chaired proceedings and, in our view, his weekly commentary on NHS reform in the Health Service Journal is essential reading for those with an interest in the politics of the NHS.
However, if you want all of the above in a nutshell, then read on:
- Our panellists agreed that the Health and Social Care Bill would be viewed as a mere footnote in the history of the NHS in years to come. The far more important challenge will be the need to achieve 4% efficiency savings each year
- NHS managers have absorbed an unfair amount of flak over the last year. But they will need to become far better at taking (calculated) risks and embracing innovations that can ultimately save the Health Service money in future.
- Politicians need to become more mature about service reconfiguration and accept that the closure of some services will improve patient outcomes. The NHS will never be able to save money until they do so.
- The Government needs to present a single compelling narrative outlining the case for change – to both the public and the NHS. Without this, it will be easy to pigeon-hole reform as being ideologically motivated, and this could damage the Government at the next election. Service integration, the theme that underpinned the Future Forum report, is a good candidate for a narrative that could win over the public.
- Improving how information is gathered and what data is recorded are essential to driving up standards in the NHS and supporting service integration.
Do look at the write up and watch the vodposts if you want a fuller flavour of the discussion at the event. And let us know if you would like to be put on the mailing list for future sessions hosted by the Health Team.