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Sunday 19 November 2017
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NHS Confederation: Political uncertainty could be good for NHS

Political uncertainty could benefit the NHS, the NHS Confederation's chief executive has said.
Niall Dickson: Political uncertainty could be good for NHS

Political uncertainty could benefit the NHS, the NHS Confederation's chief executive has said.

In his keynote address on the first day of Confed17 conference yesterday (14 June), Niall Dickson told the audience of over 1,000 NHS leaders that constraints of parliamentary numbers may 'present an opportunity' for the NHS.

He called for the Government to take the chance to work differently, finding areas of common agreement on the issues that matter most to the public which, he said, last week’s general election showed to be health and social care.

'Start fixing the ship'

'Our message to the politicians is that when it comes to the NHS, we have to stop launching life rafts and start fixing the ship,' and he stated these fixes come in three challenges: Money, transformation and workforce,' Mr Dickson told the conference.

'We need clarity on funding, we need political courage on transformation and a new approach on securing and supporting our workforce,' he said.

'United and unambiguous'

Rallying support from the audience and Confed members, he summarised: 'In these uncertain times, more than ever, we need to be united and unambiguous – clear what our offer is to the British people and what we need to deliver it.

'Some of this will be uncomfortable and we must be honest about what can and cannot be achieved and what is needed to bring about the transformation to which we are all committed.'

Capital funding promise will 'help get transformation up and running'

Responding to health secretary, Jeremy Hunt’s speech today (15 June), Mr Dickson said: 'We are pleased the secretary of state agrees with our stance on the importance of linking health funding to nationwide economic performance, and we will continue to encourage the Government to commit to a funding level which is linked to GDP.

'The promise of more capital funding, which he re-iterated this morning, will help get transformation up and running.

'The health secretary also made encouraging comments on the issue of pay and we welcome his suggestion that this is something he will be discussing with the Chancellor – particularly the possibility of improvements for nurses.

'The issue of legislative change was also discussed, and although we concede a weakened Government will find this challenging, we’re encouraged that the secretary of state will be pushing for cross-party consensus to deliver change.

'We look forward to continuing our discussions with the health secretary around these issues, as well as the urgent need for a fundamental review of which services are needed, how much they will cost and how they will be paid for.'