Publication Health and Care 7 July, 2016

Health conference 2016: 'Seizing the opportunity: building on reform success'

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In July 2016, Reform held a health conference on 'Seizing the opportunity: building on reform success'. The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health, gave the keynote speech and there were three other panels on the topics of: 'Innovation in healthcare', 'Operational productivity in hospitals' and 'Delivering the Five Year Forward View: public-private partnerships'.

  • Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health
  • Nicky Sturt, Director, Market Access UK, Baxter
  • Mike Fairbourn, Vice President and General Manager, UK and Ireland, BD
  • Chris Hopson, Chief Executive, NHS Providers
  • Lord Warner, Member, NHS Sustainability Committee and former Secretary of State for Health
  • Guy Blomfield, Group Chief Executive Officer, Alliance Medical
  • Professor Paul Corrigan CBE, Adjunct Professor of Health Policy, Imperial College London and former Senior Health Policy Adviser to Tony Blair
  • Valerie Bartlett, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Strategy and Transformation, Ashford and St Peter’s NHS Foundation Trust

Reform Comment:

David Cameron’s first major speech in this Parliament strengthened his Government’s arguments on NHS reform. He emphasised the Government’s commitment to universal NHS access, free at the point of use. He went on from there to give full backing to the NHS England vision of radical change set out in the Five Year Forward View. That reform programme would deliver both better care and stronger value for money, for example, by increasing prevention, improving patient safety, reducing unnecessary hospital admissions and so on. The Prime Minister said:

“Because of our long-term economic plan, we can and will back this long-term health plan for our country. In return the NHS must step up. There is no choice between efficiency savings and quality of care. Delivering the quality of care that we all want to see depends on delivering the efficiencies at the heart of this plan. It’s a big responsibility. And it’s going to require some tough decisions and tough actions to deliver the transformation set out in the plan. But I’m confident that the NHS can do this under Simon’s leadership. We’re backing this plan together. As I said to Simon earlier: ‘I’m funding it. He’s delivering it.’”

Reform’s 2016 summer health conference will engage with the key ideas in the Government’s reform programme. The first of those is innovation. The Forward View is entirely based on the implementation of new thinking, notably the development of new care models. The Vanguard sites have succeeded in developing innovation. So much of the challenge now is the delivery of innovation in the four years remaining of this Parliament. George Freeman’s work with the life science sector is an important part of this agenda. His pioneering thinking aims to enable the NHS to benefit from innovative therapies, pharmaceuticals and devices even in a time of financial stringency. In fact he believes that a stronger relationship between the NHS and the sector can strengthen the tax base from which future NHS funding will be drawn. We are delighted that George is able to speak today.

The second theme is the future of hospitals. Lord Carter’s review of operational productivity argued that £5 billion of the £56 billion spent by acute hospitals could be saved if their internal processes ran at the standard of the best. An important question is whether the shift to new care models, including “Accountable Care Organisations” and hospital chains, will support that greater efficiency. In the background is Lord Rose’s review of NHS leadership which found that the NHS is “drowning in bureaucracy”. That bureaucratic and administrative burden needs to be lifted if hospital leaders are to improve their processes quickly.

The third theme is NHS partnership with the independent sector. Partnership is a means to an end of better patient care. In the 2015 Spending Review, the Government committed to “encourage long term partnerships between the NHS and the private sector to modernise buildings, equipment and services, and deliver efficiencies”. There are excellent examples of the improvement of care through partnership, including the case study of PET-CT diagnostic scans presented today. Partnership can be one of the tools used to accelerate the pace of reform.

We are very grateful indeed to Baxter Healthcare, BD and Alliance Medical, our sponsors, whose experience in delivering care will add a great deal to the conference debate. We are also extremely grateful for the strong and senior attendance today. We welcome your close engagement with Reform’s active health policy programme.

Andrew Haldenby, Director, Reform