Reforming the NHS and social care is one of the defining challenges for the new Government elected in May 2015. An ageing population and the rising cost of care is stretching budgets to their limits. In the long term it is the most significant threat to the sustainability of the public finances. The temptation remains for governments to pledge more ‘inputs’, whether more doctors or more money. What really matters to the wellbeing of current and future patients, however, is changing the service to deliver better outcomes and doing so at the lowest possible cost.
This should mean a health and care service coordinated around empowered patients, focused on preventing illness as well as treating it. It should mean a radical new push on productivity and an honest conversation about the sustainability and equity of the financial foundations of the service. Flexibility as to who delivers these better value services should be encouraged.