The House of Lords Committee on the Long-term Sustainability of the NHS has today called for submissions to its inquiry as it tries to identify what the NHS of the future may look like.
The Committee’s inquiry comes as NHS commissioners and providers wrestle with an annual deficient of £1.85bn and imminent demographic changes promise an older population and more patients with increasingly complex long-term health needs. These challenges come alongside changes in healthcare and medical technology which may lead to more personalised prevention and treatment of diseases.
The Committee has divided its inquiry into five themes which it will consider in public evidence sessions in the following order:
1. Resourcing issues – including funding, productivity and demand management. Is the current funding model for the NHS realistic in the long-term? Should new models be considered? Is it time to review exactly what is provided free-at-the-point of use?
2. Workforce – including supply, retention and skills. How can an adequate supply of appropriately trained healthcare professionals be guaranteed? Are enough being trained and how can they be retained? Do staff in the NHS have the right skills for future health care needs?
3. Models of service delivery and integration. How can the move be made to an integrated National Health and Care Service? How can organisations in health and social care be incentivised to work together?
4. Prevention and public engagement. How can people be motivated to take greater responsibility for their own health? How can people be kept healthier for longer?
5. Digitisation, big data and informatics. How can new technology be used to ensure sustainability of the NHS?
The Committee are inviting written evidence to be received Friday 23 September. Evidence can cover one or more of the themes and should focus on the long-term sustainability of the NHS rather than short-term issues. The Committee started taking oral evidence on 12 July and it is expected sessions will focus on resourcing issues throughout September and October before moving to the workforce theme in November. The Committee will agree its report by the end of March 2017. Details on how to submit evidence is available on the Committee’s webpage
Commenting Lord Patel, who chairs the Committee, said: “It seems that on an almost daily basis we hear stories of one NHS crisis or another but we have not yet had a robust long-term analysis of the challenges it faces. The NHS is one of our most beloved institutions with principles that people value and admire but like any public service it must adapt. We need to find long term solutions. Our inquiry will get to the core of the challenges that the NHS will face over the next two decades and beyond. We hope that it will lead to a cross-party consensus on the way forward for a sustainable approach to better healthcare.”