The Select Committee on the Long-term Sustainability of the NHS of the House of Lords, chaired by cross-bencher Lord Naren Patel (pictured), has published its findings into the sustainability issues facing the NHS and the impact these will have over the next 15–20 years. The Committee invited interested individuals and organisations to submit evidence.
The report recommends that the NHS needed a long-term plan to make up for years of government “short-sightedness”.
Writing for the PoliticsHomes website, Lord Patel, an obstetrician, said, “A culture of short-termism prevails in the NHS and adult social care system, with the Department of Health either unwilling or unable to look beyond the current crisis. To tackle this, we need political consensus on the way forward, which the Government should seek to initiate.”
The Select Committee concluded that health professionals and politicians needed to take a long-term view of issues ranging from recruitment to funding to ensure the NHS remains sustainable.
The report warned that a demographic shift to an older population living longer, has pressurised the NHS, threatening its long-term sustainability and radical change is needed.
The warning comes after NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens recently set out his plans for the next two years, admitting that the pressures of limited resources and rising demands meant the NHS would fall short of some waiting time targets.
Lord Patel, said, “The Department of Health at both the political and official level is failing to think beyond the next few years.
“There is a shocking lack of strategic planning in the NHS. We also need to recognise the NHS will need more money. NHS spending will need to rise at least as fast as GDP for 10 years after 2020.
“One area where more spending will be required is on pay for lower paid staff.
“We have heard much about the need to integrate health and social care and we think the best way to do that is make the Department of Health responsible for both health and adult social care budgets.
“We also think it is time to look at the way care is delivered. This may well involve changing the model where GPs are self-employed small businesses.
“Delivering health care fit for the 21st century requires improvement in primary care to relieve pressure on hospitals. That change should be delivered by GPs.”
Responding to the Select Committee’s report, a Department of Health spokesperson said: “We are totally committed to an NHS, free at the point of use, providing world-class care – and we agree that means taking decisions to ensure the sustainability of the service in future.”