Politicians Condemned For ‘Silence’ On Challenges Of Health And Care

The NHS Confederation has condemned political parties’ ‘summer of silence’ on the challenges facing health and social care, and joined with the most influential coalition of organisations ever mustered to publish a manifesto for the future of health and care.

At the toughest time health and care services have known for a generation, the 2015 Challenge Manifesto, published today (11 September) brings together 21 major bodies in an unprecedented demand for action. It sets out an achievable vision of a sustainable health and care service and makes 15 solid ‘asks’ to deliver health and care services for the future.

Political courage

In May, the coalition published the 2015 Challenge Declaration, which set out the seven major challenges facing health and care.

“Overcoming these is going to take political courage and a real debate on how to provide the funding and support radical changes in care,” said Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation.

“Instead we have had a summer of silence, punctuated by announcements on parking, contracting and hospital food. These are important issues but none of them tackle the fundamental challenges.

“Today, we have set out a clear vision of a future health service which is better for patients and is sustainable. We look to politicians of all parties for honesty, courage and substance between now and the general election.”

Absolute ‘must dos’

Building on the declaration, The 2015 Challenge Manifesto: a time for action sets out the absolute ‘must dos’ the 2015 Challenge partners think political parties need to address when shaping their own party manifestos in the run-up to next year’s election.

Incorporating a list of ’15 things to secure a future for health and social care’, the manifesto describes a clear vision of where the health and care service should be heading, and identifies the vital elements which the political parties need to cover in setting out their own brand of proposed solution.

The 15 ‘asks’ are:

  1.             A government-wide approach to keeping people well
  2.             No top-down reorganisations
  3.             New models of care that are supported politically at a national and local level
  4.             Politicians playing a leadership role in ensuring debates about change focus constructively on the implications for people’s health and wellbeing
  5.             Flexibility for providers on new organisational models with a clarified policy on provider futures and the FT pipeline
  6.             A national sector-led programme to support self-care at scale
  7.             Workforce reforms that value staff and secure the workforce of the future
  8.             Government must build consensus around the expectations on the health and care workforce to provide seven-day services and providing support to meet these expectations
  9.             Genuine parity of esteem for mental health
  10.             Local leaders driving change within a national framework, including simplified performance regimes
  11.             Enabling locally led deployment of new technologies, coordinated information systems and cutting edge research at pace and scale.
  12.             Longer-term settlements for health and care that support service change, with adequate funding to meet demand across health and care
  13.             Payment system reform – to incentivise new models of care
  14.             A non-recurrent £2 billion fund to support change for at least two years over and above this
  15.             Political accountability for decisions on funding – recognising that health and care cannot absorb current pressures and deliver everything we currently do without more funding.

Unarguable evidence

Dame Gill Morgan, independent chair of the coalition of leading organisations said: “This document encapsulates the views of organisations representing patients, doctors, nurses, therapists, leading charities, local government and NHS managers. The evidence for change that is required is unarguable. The asks of the political parties are agreed and sensible. We now need the political parties to listen to what the experts are saying about the future, if they are to set manifestos that safeguard the future of the NHS.”

No excuse

The coalition of leading health and care bodies – which royal colleges, patient groups, household-name charities, as well as local government and health service leadership organisations – has published the manifesto in advance of annual party conference ‘season’, so there can be no excuse for political parties failing to address the serious issues it raises.