Leading experts create NHS 'manifesto' demanding radical transformation


Leading experts have called on ministers to back the radical transformation of the NHS into a "person-based" organisation.

A group of influential clinicians, academics and peers said public funding should be set aside for the overhaul, which would require a "massive increase" in local community services.

The 17 authors of the NHS "manifesto" include former NHS chief executive Lord Nigel Crisp and Professor Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Writing in The Lancet medical journal, they highlighted the "troubled" state of an NHS that appeared to "lurch from crisis to crisis".

Brexit was likely to worsen many problems such as staffing shortages, they said.

A key element of the "manifesto" was switching from a "hospital-centred and illness-based system to a person-centred and health-based system".

This would mean boosting services in homes and communities, greater use of technology, the involvement of many different partners and providers, and the development of new infrastructure.

The authors stressed that the UK spent 30% to 50% less per head on health than Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Holland and Australia.

"Additional funding is needed both to achieve the transformation of the system and to meet the growing needs of an ageing population," they said.

There was also a need to improve efficiency by joining up health, social care and possibly other local service budgets.

"Public funding is the most effective and economical way of delivering this requirement," experts insisted.

A national analysis of the economic impact of public spending in different areas had found that funding health yielded one of the biggest returns - up to £3 for each £1 invested, they said.

The manifesto also maintained that current plans for health promotion and disease prevention were "too small scale and fragmented". A much larger and society-wide effort was needed, it was claimed.

In addition the UK needed a proper strategic plan for strengthening Britain's role as a global centre for health and life sciences.

The new approach was said to go "far beyond government" and had to involve the co-operation of employers, educators and private services.

David Stuckler, Professor of Political Economy and Sociology at Oxford University, who was one of the authors, said: "For too long, the NHS has been fire-fighting.

"The system is struggling to maintain old services whilst creating new ones, and as a result is facing double running costs and failing to invest in the future.

"We need to fund modern services and take some of the strain off the NHS by creating a society where everyone has a role in promoting health."

Lord Crisp said: "With a new government comes the opportunity for a clear, bold new strategy.

"We need a new approach to health that recognises on the one hand the enormous contribution health and biomedical sciences make to the economy, and on the other that every part of society has a role to play in improving health."