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Lords slam DH for ‘short-sightedness’ of NHS future planning


5 April 2017

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A Lords select committee has slammed the Government for developing a ‘culture of short-termism’ towards the NHS and social care.

The House of Lords Select Committee on the Long-term Sustainability of the NHS has concluded in a report that the ‘short-sightedness’ of successive Governments means they have failed to plan effectively for the long-term future of the health service and adult social care. 

A Lords select committee has slammed the Government for developing a ‘culture of short-termism’ towards the NHS and social care.

The House of Lords Select Committee on the Long-term Sustainability of the NHS has concluded in a report that the ‘short-sightedness’ of successive Governments means they have failed to plan effectively for the long-term future of the health service and adult social care. 

The committee said that for the NHS to remain free-at-the-point-of-use, many aspects of healthcare delivery will have to change over the next 15-20 years.

To uphold these changes, the committee recommends a new, independent Office for Health and Care Sustainability be established to oversee long-term healthcare.

The office should report to Parliament about the impact of changing demographic needs, the workforce and skill mix in the NHS as well as the stability of health and social care funding relative to demand.

The committee emphasised that a political consensus on the future of the NHS is ‘not only desirable, it is achievable’ and calls on the Government to initiate a cross-party discussion.

In the report, the committee makes 34 recommendations for improving the long term sustainability of the NHS.

Lord Patel, chairman of the committee, cross bench peer and obstetrician said the Department of Health ‘is failing to think beyond the next few years’.

He said: ‘There is a shocking lack of long-term strategic planning in the NHS. This short sightedness stems from the political importance of the NHS and the temptation for politicians to reach for short-term fixes not long-term solutions. 

‘To solve this we need a new body that is independent of Government and is able to identify clearly the healthcare needs of a changing and ageing population and the staffing and funding the NHS will require to meet those needs.’

Director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said she welcomed the call for an office for health and care sustainability

She said the office would have the ‘independence and authority to say what needs to be said in order to help the Government plan objectively for future needs’.

She added: ‘It is right that politicians decide on priorities but they should do so on the basis of the best evidence and advice available. This is something we have been calling for, for some time.’

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