Responding to the Secretary of State for Health’s 25 year vision for the NHS, Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said:
‘There is much to welcome in the Secretary of State’s vision for the NHS including the continued focus on safety and quality of care, the emphasis on transparency and the goal to make the NHS the world’s largest learning organisation. This signals a significant move away from using external pressures such as competition and targets to drive change towards reforming the NHS from within by supporting leaders to improve quality of care.
‘Many of the themes in the speech will strike a chord with NHS staff but they will take time to deliver results. The test will be whether the emphasis on devolution and self-improvement can be maintained in the face of short term political imperatives – ministers invariably find it difficult to resist intervening, particularly when NHS performance declines. An even bigger challenge will be to implement this vision at a time when NHS organisations are having to respond to huge financial and service pressures.
‘A seven day NHS is the right ambition but will be difficult to deliver. As the war of words with the BMA indicates, significant challenges will need to be to overcome to ensure sufficient staff are available at weekends. There is also the question about how it will be paid for. The
£8 billion increase in the NHS budget the government has pledged by 2020 is the bare minimum needed to maintain standards of care and will not cover the additional costs associated with it.’