The NHS will know exactly how it’s leadership team plans to find the £22bn in efficiency savings in the next two weeks.
Speaking in the West Midlands, Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, announced that in a fortnight’s time he and his colleagues would release the £22 billion efficiency challenge, detailing how the efficiency cuts could be made.
He said that during the next five years health professionals and leaders will need to focus on three “broad fronts”: prevention, more personalised and integrated care, and financial sustainability of the NHS.
Stevens said that precisely how much additional money the NHS needs, and with what phasing, will partly depend on how “radical and how successful we are on prevention, on care redesign, and on our broader efficiency programme… the Health Service is entering probably the most challenging period in its 67 year history.”
“As a nation it’s time to get our act together on prevention… We’ve got a choice. Condemn our children to a rising tide of avoidable diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer? And burden taxpayers with an NHS bill far exceeding an extra £8 billion by 2020? It’s a no brainer – pull out all the stops on prevention, or face the music,” Stevens said.
Stevens called for a “fundamental redesign” of how care services are provided, and stated that one of the best ways of doing this was through personalisation and the integration of a seven-day service, “blurring the old boundaries between GP and hospital care, physical and mental health services, health and social care.”
He advocated the use of digital technology to make it easier to book appointments, and to give the option of Skype GP appointments, as well as convenient alternatives to A&E.
The third major challenge is putting the NHS’ finances on a sustainable footing, he said. “The Economist Intelligence Unit pointed out a few days ago, we already have an incredibly lean and efficient health service compared with just about every other industrialised country.”
However he went on to say that we have unused land and buildings that could be utilised, inefficient procurement practices, and that the NHS could work better with the voluntary sector, local government and other employers.
“And as the largest employer in Europe the NHS itself can still do better at training and employing our skilled and dedicated frontline staff – including immediate action to convert agency staffing into permanent nursing jobs,” he said.