Welcome to The Healthcare Industry Barometer 2010.
A question asked by many in our industry is where will this new Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government take UK healthcare? The secretary of state for health, Andrew Lansley talks of an NHS built on core beliefs of “freedom, fairness and responsibility” with a “plurality of providers” and guaranteed real increases in health spending. In the government’s white paper on health sector reform (‘Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS’), published on 12 July 2010, a number of themes are outlined: a patient-led NHS; an emphasis on clinical outcomes, rather than process targets; reductions in bureaucracy; ownership and accountability placed more in the hands of frontline staff, with the transfer of more power to health professionals; and the promotion of better public health and reform of the social care system. These are, without question, bold ambitions.
There are doubters. Some suspect items of spending from, for example, education and local authority budgets might be moved into the health budget without additional funding. Others question the government’s promise to eliminate “top down reorganisations of the NHS” whilst at the same time proposing the biggest structural change for decades, with the transfer of commissioning power to GPs. Others refer to supposedly insurmountable issues such as the NHS pension scheme.
However, many people – including me – see greater opportunity for the independent sector to influence the direction of travel and to find more ways of working alongside the NHS and local authorities in the delivery of future health and social services. Examples include:
•Opportunities to support GPs shape local healthcare provision by providing commissioning consortia with the requisite expertise and resources to make the new arrangements work
•The potential opening up of patient choice to named consultants, registration with any GP and into maternity services, mental health, long-term care, end-of-life care and diagnostic testing
•Opportunities to work with an increased number of more commercially minded NHS Foundation Trusts which are willing to pursue new and innovative ventures with the independent sector
•With the government keen to encourage greater involvement by those closest to the frontline delivery of services to the community, there is the potential for social enterprises and those in the independent sector willing to work with social enterprises to increase their exposure to the sector
•The potential to work with the NHS and local authorities in more joined-up delivery of health and social care services, with structures potentially evolving out of the NHS Lift and Scottish HUB models.
It is encouraging to see others in this survey agreeing with me about the potential for the independent sector. I hope you find this survey of interest. Once again, I would like to thank
HealthInvestor for their hard work in collating the survey and to all the participants for their time and insight.
Partner, Nabarro LLP