Matt Hancock: The Future of Healthcare. ABHI Summary
Speaking to a social-distanced Royal College of Physicians audience yesterday, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock delivered a speech entitled 'The Future of Healthcare'.
The address was a reflection on how the NHS has coped with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lessons to take forward so that we can “bottle the best.”
The Health Secretary delivered three key messages:
- We need to push power out from the centre.
- We need to get rid of unnecessary bureaucracy.
- We need to drive forward the integration of health and social care.
Using the comparison of the Great Fire of London, and the advances in building regulations and fire and rescue services that stemmed from it, he stated that the coronavirus pandemic can be a “catalyst for change and opportunity.”
Matt Hancock then went onto detail what have we learnt from the pandemic:
- COVID-19 has suddenly and dramatically revealed our healthcare landscape in a way we haven’t seen before, exposing how it performs under sustained pressure. In turn, this has revealed what is essential and what is bureaucratic.
- There have been huge advancements in telemedicine and data-driven decision making.
- We now have evidence of how people choose to receive care. This can help free-up the system and make it work better, with "accepted truths or ways of doing things challenged if they didn’t help."
- Taking a mission-led approach we must “scythe away the red tape, attitudes and ways of working that stand in the way.”
The Health Secretary outlined seven things we must now do:
- We must value our people and trust them as professionals - highlighting the people plan that was released this week.
- Support a culture of collaboration and change by busting bureaucracy – highlighting the need to simplify guidance and to balance risk vs benefit.
- Better tech means better healthcare. “We want to double down on the huge advances we’ve made in technology within NHS and social care. From now on, all consultations should be teleconsultations unless there’s a compelling clinical reason not to.”
- The NHS needs “open borders” – meaning better joint-working between the public and private sectors.
- The system works best when it works as a system, as opposed to siloed institutions. The NHS must be connected to the places it serves. “We will take a financial and inspection approach that encourages and rewards collaboration.”
- Accountability matters. Just as a collegiate approach is needed on the ground, we need this at the centre too. National healthcare organisations are siloed. “It is time to set clear ambitions for social care in this country and fix it. We already know that we need a fairer system for paying for care, that protects people from the exorbitant costs that require them to sell their home. And that we need to get more money overall into social care and fix the funding shortfall.” Matt Hancock said this is a top priority with more to come in the coming months.
- Prevention matters. The NHS must not shoulder the burden of keeping the nation well. Citing the impact of conditions such as diabetes, healthcare inequalities "between ethnic groups, between city and country, between occupations." The nation needs to level-up its health, but it is “harder to stay healthy if you are poor”.