The political parties' 'summer of silence' on the challenges facing the health and care service has been condemned by a coalition of influential organisations.
A group of 21 major bodies, including the Royal College of General Practitioners, NHS Confederation and the Local Government Association, has published a manifesto for the future of health and social care.
The 2015 Challenge Manifesto sets out an achievable vision of a sustainable health and care service with 15 'asks' to deliver health and care services for the future.
The 'asks' are:
1. a government-wide approach to keeping people well
2. no top-down reorganisations
3. new models of care that are supported politically at a national and local level
4. politicians playing a leadership role in ensuring debates about change focus constructively on the implications for people’s health and wellbeing
5. flexibility for providers on new organisational models with a clarified policy on provider futures and the FT pipeline
6. a national sector led programme to support self care at scale
7. workforce reforms that value staff and secure the workforce of the future
8. government must build consensus around the expectations on the health and care workforce to provide seven-day services and providing support to meet these expectations
9. genuine parity of esteem for mental health
10. local leaders driving change within a national framework, including simplified performance regimes
11. enabling locally led deployment of new technologies, coordinated information systems and cutting edge research at pace and scale.
12. longer term settlements for health and care that support service change, with adequate funding to meet demand across health and care
13. payment system reform - to incentivise new models of care
14. a non-recurrent £2bn fund to support change for at least two years over and above this
15. political accountability for decisions on funding – recognising that health and care cannot absorb current pressures and deliver everything we currently do without more funding.
Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “Back in May, the 2015 Challenge Declaration set out the seven major challenges facing health and care. Overcoming these is going to take political courage and a real debate on how to provide the funding and support radical changes in care. Instead we have had a summer of silence, punctuated by announcements on parking, contracting and hospital food. These are important issues but none of them tackle the fundamental challenges.
"Today, we have set out a clear vision of a future health service which is better for patients and is sustainable. We look to politicians of all parties for honesty, courage and substance between now and the General Election.”