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Political uncertainty ‘an opportunity’ for health and social care, says NHS Confed chief

Political uncertainty ‘an opportunity’ for health and social care, says NHS Confed chief

Uncertainty surrounding the direction of the newly elected Government may provide the right environment for ‘bold decisions’ on health and social care, the head of NHS Confederation has said
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Uncertainty surrounding the direction of the newly elected Government may provide the right environment for ‘bold decisions’ on health and social care, the head of NHS Confederation has said.

Speaking at the end of the first day of NHS Confederation’s annual conference, the organisation’s chief executive Niall Dickson the current political climate is an ‘opportune moment for our NHS’.

He said: ‘The distraction of Brexit and the constraints of parliamentary numbers mean the government may be tempted not to take bold decisions or to tackle issues such as social care.

‘On the other hand these constraints may present an opportunity. This government will have to work differently, finding issues of agreement that matter most to the electorate and that clearly includes the NHS and social care.’

He added that politicians must ‘stop launching the life rafts and start fixing the ship’, naming three imminent challenges facing the NHS: money, transformation and workforce.

He said: ‘We need clarity on funding, we need political courage on transformation and a new approach on securing and supporting our workforce.’

But Mr Dickson told the delegates from across the health and social care services that economic realities cannot be ignored, with per head spending over the next five years likely to rise by just 1.2%.

He said: Compare that with the 4% historical average and even that 4% left this country behind many other comparable systems. It also means that health spending is likely to continue to fall as a percentage of GDP.’

During the election campaign NHS Confederation called on the parties to commit to spending as much on health care as is spent on defence and international aid.

But with a minority government, Mr Dickson said politicians from across the political divide now have an opportunity to ‘recognise the need to put both health and care on a more sustainable footing’.

He said: ‘For this is surely a time for our political leaders to pause for thought. There is a chance now to reset the clock and think through what can be achieved in the coming months and years.’

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