Could the NHS reforms be good for us?

The NHS reforms are ill conceived and ill thought out. Lansley’s proposals are opposed by patients and NHS staff alike. With the nurses’ vote of no confidence and the health minister’s own suggestion of a “pause” in the progress of the health and social care bill, the voice of reason may yet prevail. We may still save one of our most treasured institutions and the lynchpin of the welfare state: our National Health Service.

Right?
Well, maybe. Or maybe not.

Despite the frenzy claiming the NHS reforms will kill patients, close hospitals and create a privatised healthcare market where once there was access for all, there is still one crucial and central truth which has been lost in the dogfight and politicking. We – the British people – can no longer afford our health system which is poorly equipped to cope with our changing needs and pressures to come. We DO need a revolution in the health system. Perhaps not conceived, designed and delivered in this way, but a revolution nonetheless.

Our health is set to undergo a slow but steady revolution over the next two decades. Life expectancy is rising about three months each year, with over half of people over 65 living with a long term condition. By 2035, 23% of the population will be over 65 compared to 15% in 1984. And we are spending more on healthcare than we ever have before. US estimates suggest it’ll be a quarter of GDP by 2025, nearly a half by 2050. In the UK we need to shave £20bn off our £100bn health bill – now.

But it’s not all about what we can afford. What we want and need, who we want to deliver it and how and where we want to give and receive not just sickcare but help to make and keep us healthy are changing. Perhaps Lansley is the unlikely champion of changes that are certainly much needed and perhaps long overdue. Are there opportunities for us in thinking radically different about our national healthcare system and how we can get it and us ready for the future? Can social enterprises offer tangible added value and some of these new solutions. Is there potential for a new category of social investment focused on the UK’s new health care system with variable financial, social and health returns? Could this be one of the ways we can pay for the revolution?

– Follow our work on Health & Wealth (& Stealth) in POPse! week beginning May 9th

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