October 31, 2016

‘The NHS Belongs to the People – A Call to Action’: what progress has been made?

Back in 2013, NHS England published a statement boldly entitled, ‘The NHS Belongs to the People – A Call to Action’.

The joint statement issued by a myriad of public sector bodies involved with the delivery of health and social care in England declared that the health service’s 65th birthday was an occasion to celebrate but also reflect.

“It is far more than just a public service; the NHS has come to embody values of fairness, compassion and equality,” noted the authors, in the hand-wringing tones we have come to expect from the guardians of our health service and the biggest employer in Britain.

They went on: “The NHS is fortunate in having a budget that has been protected in recent times, but even protecting the budget will not address the financial challenges that lie ahead.

“If the NHS is to survive another 65 years, it must change… This is not about unnecessary structural change; it is about finding ways of doing things differently: harnessing technology to fundamentally improve productivity; putting people in charge of their own health and care; integrating more health and care services; and much more besides.”

The list of signatories included the heads of the Care Quality Commission, Health and Social Care Information Centre, Health Education England, the Local Government Association, Monitor, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the NHS Commissioning Assembly, NHS England, the NHS Trust Development Authority and Public Health England. In other words, mostly the great and the good of the healthcare establishment.

Fast forward three years and ask the question: what progress has been made in executing the changes listed above? From our perspective, a small but ambitious technology development company based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, not much.

It is easy to be critical of the NHS. Pick up a paper any day of the week and you will find negative stories about this national institution. Doctors and nurses on the front line can and do deliver excellent care in difficult circumstances.

But you fear that the mind-boggling complexity of the NHS and its multiple local, national and the soon-to-be-returned regional structures militate against meaningful transformation and change.

Since the Call to Action report was published in 2013, Inhealthcare has made strong progress. Our powerful digital healthcare platform provides the infrastructure for the North of England Regional Back Pain Programme, NHS England’s Sheffield City Region Test Bed, the Darlington Healthy New Town project and the PainSense self-management tool in Leeds. The platform currently supports 25,000 patients across hundreds of GP surgeries, care homes and hospitals across the UK.

We have partnered with forward-looking NHS organisations to do exactly what the Call to Action demanded in 2013. That is, we are helping NHS clinicians to do things differently; they are harnessing our technology to fundamentally improve productivity and put people in charge of their own health and social care.

As the current cohort of NHS leaders sweat over how they are to deliver tens of billions of pounds worth of efficiencies, I would invite them to have a look at how Inhealthcare can help them achieve some quick wins through tried and tested, safe and secure technology.

Instead of putting their names to sombrely worded public pronouncements and then pretending it is business as usual, they ought to consider what practical steps they might take to achieve what we all know has to be done.

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