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Hewitt: Prioritising hospital funding will undermine preventative care plans

Hewitt: Prioritising hospital funding will undermine preventative care plans
By Jess Hacker
27 June 2023

‘Pouring’ money into and focussing solely on hospitals will hinder the NHS’ and ICBs’ attempts to improve preventative care, former Labour health secretary Patricia Hewitt has said.

Speaking via a pre-recorded video today (27 June) at a Westminster Health Forum conference on prevention work, the author of the Hewitt Review into ICS accountability said that funding should be moved upstream to keep patients out of acute care.

It comes after the Government this month rejected her independent review’s call for an increase in spending on prevention.

The model for funding must be changed to better suit the NHS’ plans for delivering preventative care, she suggested, adding that the shift to prevention has been considered ‘for decades’ but with little action.

Ms Hewitt, chair of Norfolk and Waveney ICB, said: ‘The reality is that if we go on pouring money, time, energy and focus simply into hospitals, and if we leave people to become acutely unwell and then get the treatment they need at the end of the system in emergency, acute and specialist hospitals, then we will never have enough staff, beds, hospitals or money to provide the care people in a society that is getting older, less healthy and less equal.’

She added: ‘We need to change the model and make that shift upstream by supporting people to live lives that are as healthy as possible. We all know that prevention is better than a cure.’

Ms Hewitt was commissioned to produce an independent review of England’s new ICSs in November.

Presenting to delegates today, Ms Hewitt raised the point that prevention work has been tabled repeatedly over the years, but with seemingly little in the way of progress delivering on it.

‘People say we need this big shift to prevention and a different model of care, and people have been talking about that for decades. Why should it be different this time?’ she said.

‘It can be different this time because we’ve got a completely different statutory framework [with ICBs], with a shift from a policy framework that really emphasised a competition between different parts of the NHS to one that’s based on collaboration, not just within the NHS, but right across these broad partnerships.’

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