House of Lords debate on the long-term sustainability of the NHS
As peers debate the Long-term Sustainability of the NHS, our briefing outlines the key considerations ahead of the debate, focusing on the future funding of health and care, service transformation, workforce and innovation, technology and productivity.
The debate follows the publication of the Government's response to the report into the Long-term Sustainability of the NHS and Adult Social Care, from the House of Lords Select Committee on the Long-term Sustainability of the NHS.
- The House of Lords committee report on the long-term sustainability of the NHS makes important recommendations which reflect the scale and gravity of the challenges confronting health and social care. The pressures and demand for services are growing year on year and we must act now to help these services adapt to serve current and future generations. The uncertainties surrounding Brexit have raised further questions about the ability of the system to cope with these pressures.
- The Government’s response to the report was welcome, but lacked detail in places and did not fully address some recommendations, such as those around the governance of STPs. The severe operational pressures facing the NHS show that the service has reached the point where it is no longer able to deliver its constitutional standards without significant extra funding and capacity, and a means of addressing current workforce shortages.
- We were pleased to see the Prime Minister’s commitment to additional funding at the Liaison Committee. However, in making that promised increase, we must not overcommit the NHS in what can be delivered in return for extra funding and become locked into a cycle of perpetual failure, however hard the frontline works.
- We also welcomed the draft workforce strategy and support the long-term approach in assessing workforce needs. Addressing staff shortages and having the right quality and supply of staff for the future is the number one concern for NHS trust leaders. Yet there are immediate staffing pressures which must also be addressed, with 100,000 vacancies across the provider sector at December 2017.
- It is vital that health and social care are recognised as interdependent, with pressures in one being reflected and potentially magnified in the other. Thresholds for accessing social care have increased, but the need remains and is often displaced to the NHS. We hope the forthcoming social care green paper will help ensure that people receive the right care in the right setting.