9 March, 2017
9:00 am - 2:30 pm
On Thursday 9 March, Reform held its 2017 health conference, 'NHS reform at pace and scale'. The conference discussed key levers for NHS transformation with panels focusing on Sustainability and Transformation Plans, workplace health and better care for less.
In his keynote speech, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, focused on the importance of patient safety. The variation in adverse events and patient care across the NHS is unacceptable and costly. He said "unsafe care is the most expensive care you can give" and that it is the failure to spread good practice that is hampering success. His plan is twofold. Firstly, the NHS must continue to work on an open culture with strong leadership that puts patient safety at its core. Secondly, From April, the NHS will be the first country in the world to publish an avoidable-mortality record.
The first panel, held in partnership with Baxter Healthcare, discussed the successes of STPs and the challenges they face. The panel unanimously supported a single payment system for all organisations delivering health and social care in order to promote out of hospital care. Jane Milligan said that, in her STP, stakeholders’ engagement with NHS reform is variable. Dr Wendy Thompson asked the question: will power be truly devolved? She explained that STPs can learn from local government in the way that they have overcome tensions between districts and counties. Dr Nigel Fraser said that STPs should be more transformation and less transactional. He believed this is about a culture shift, about giving areas an identity to achieve staff buy-in. Nicola Sturt reinforced the idea that for organisations to work together, funding incentives must be aligned.
The second panel, held in partnership with Simplyhealth, was a timely discussion on workplace health. Professor Dame Carol Black explained that the evidence for wellbeing programmes in work is growing that that in future these should focus on bullying, mental health, obesity and physical activity. Charles Alessi said that it is in everybody’s interest to promote good work as it improves physical and mental health. Professor Abhinay Muthoo focused on prevention saying that society should concentrate on the decisions people make before they come unwell. Bernie Hurn said that it is for employers to facilitate early access to health care for employees.
The third panel, held in partnership with Affidea, addressed the issue of delivering better care for less. The panel concluded that for years the NHS has known what it needs to do to deliver meaningful reform but progress has been painfully slow. Lord Carter explained that the variation in care is unacceptable and a principal cause of NHS inefficiency. Sir David Dalton said that the slow pace of change in the NHS hinders transformation and suggested that to overcome the inertia of decision making, the 240 hospitals should come together into 60-80 groups able to take advantage of economies of scale and share ideas. Dr Penelope Dash also spoke of the inertia in NHS transformation. Since working as Director of Strategy at the Department of Health in 2000 she has understood the keys to success to be primary care reform, improved hospital efficiency and a move to reduced capacity in acute care. Dr Rowland Illing explained that updating the NHS’s use of technology by using better data analytics and transparent benchmarking can deliver consistently efficient care.
Reform’s conference is a key part of the health policy calendar, with over 200 people in attendance every year. You can read the articles that were produced for the event here.