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Next 5 years of change in the NHS crucial to its survival, say leading healthcare experts in new report

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants

3 min read Partner content

Leading health policy and academic experts share their concerns, aspirations and hopes for the future of the NHS in a new collection of essays published today by The Smith Institute and ACCA (The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

The report, Healthcare - the next 5 years concludes that change to the NHS is unavoidable, and that political consensus is needed to provide good quality healthcare over the long term. Amongst the essayists are:

- Anita Charlesworth, Chief Economist at the Health Foundation, who asks in her essay “Is the NHS sustainable?”
- Kieran Brett, Director at Improving Care, whose chapter is called “The Five Year Forward View – reasons to be (cautiously) cheerful”
- Tom Wright, Chief Executive of Age UK, who pens a chapter titled “Can we achieve whole-person care?”
- And Richard Murray, Director of Policy at the King’s Fund, with an essay “Being honest about the pressures on the NHS”

Other contributors include: Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK; Julie Wood, Director of NHS Clinical Commissioners; Rick Stern, Chief Executive of the NHS Alliance; Rob Webster, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation; Dr Charlotte Augst, Richmond Group of Charities; and Professor Gabriel Scally, Professor of Public Health and Planning at the University of the West of England.

Michelle Mitchell, Chief Executive, MS Society and the report’s editor, said: “The NHS has a lot to celebrate – it has contributed to people surviving conditions that in the previous century would have been fatal, and has contributed to an increasing life expectancy. Yet it now faces its biggest challenge yet.

“In the face of widening health inequalities, an ageing population, an increasing number of people living with more than one long-term condition, and the continuing impact of risk factors such as smoking, alcohol, physical inactivity and poor diet, the NHS must transform.

“The most important change will be how the health care system mobilises and recognises the assets, strengths and abilities of individuals not just our needs. This includes enhanced support to self-manage, bringing about truly person centred care, and patient involvement in the design and production of services. Importantly, we need to invest in and accurately measure the things patients value -improved experience of care matters as much to most patients as clinical effectiveness and safety.”

“The next 5 years will make or break the health service – the Five Year Forward View provides an important opportunity to transform the NHS for the better. Let’s work together to make sure the NHS has more to celebrate in the future.”

Gillian Fawcett, head of public sector policy at ACCA and one of the essayists, said: “Delivering efficient and effective healthcare systems will continue to be of major public interest around the world over the next five years and beyond. In the future it will also be important for politicians, healthcare system managers and professionals to devise ways of communicating the essential need for change and how this might be implemented. Innovative approaches to healthcare service provision will be required to achieve an outcome that is politically acceptable, sustainable and offers value for money.”

Paul Hackett, director of the Smith Institute, said: “The NHS continues to adapt to the pressure its under, not least from an ageing society. But, as this report shows the NHS is at a crossroads. Without a new settlement on ‘prevention first’, efficiency savings and funding some hospitals could face bankruptcy.”