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'Urgent need' for politician honesty on NHS

'Urgent need' for politician honesty on NHS

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Politicians should develop election pledges which recognise the need for change in the NHS, healthcare leaders have demanded. 

All current and future politicians have been challenged to “be honest with the public, staff and media” about issues facing the health and care system. 

Seven burning issues have been put forward by a coalition of leading health and social care stakeholders: 

The need challenge – Meeting the rising demand for care, particularly from people with complex needs or long-term conditions, while maintaining people’s wellbeing and preventing ill health for as long as possible.

The culture challenge – Building confidence in the health service by achieving a fundamental shift in culture from the bottom up. Creating a more open and transparent NHS, which enables patients, citizens and communities to be partners in decisions, and staff to improve care.

The design challenge – Shifting more care closer to people’s homes, while maintaining great hospital care. 

The finance challenge – Debating honestly and openly the future levels and sources of funding for health and social care.

The leadership challenge – Creating value-based, system leaders across the NHS and empowering them to improve health and wellbeing for local people. 

The workforce challenge – Planning for a workforce to better match changing demand. 

The technology challenge – Using technology to help transform care and enabling people to access information and treatment in a way that meets their needs. 

The group which includes the Royal College of General Practitioners, the NHS Confederation and the Local Government Association, among others, stressed that there is “no illusion about the urgency or severity of the need for change”. 

Rob Webster (pictured), chief executive of the NHS Confederation said: “The 18-24 months in the run-up to a General Election sees all parties wary of demonstrating the bold leadership crucial for the future of the health service, and local health economies unable to engage in the difficult but essential conversations they need to have with local communities, staff and patients.

“The scale and pace of change needed means that it is vital that health and care services start changing as soon as the new government is elected, and that politicians do not stand in the way.

“If we do not achieve a post-election readiness for change, it is very possible the current basis of the NHS, free for all at the point of need, will become unsustainable.”

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