The Prime Minister, David Cameron, delivered a keynote speech on the NHS at Ealing Hospital earlier today, as part of a series of events being undertaken during the government’s 'listening exercise' regarding the proposed NHS reforms.
During the speech Mr Cameron confirmed both his own personal commitment and that of the government to the NHS and its underlying principles and ethos, including 'free healthcare at the point of access for all'. He went on to outline that spending on healthcare in the United Kingdom is now near the european average and that the NHS is treating more patients than ever before, with many patients being able to access the latest technologies and treatments. However, he stated that the NHS faces a number of key challenges including an ageing population with an increasing prevalence of long-term conditions, the increasing cost of new technologies and treatments and the need to deliver significant efficiency savings. As a result maintaining the status quo is not an option.
Mr Cameron confirmed that it was therefore vital for the NHS to change and modernise in order to enable it to meet these challenges and that the key aims of the proposed reforms included ensuring that all patients are able to access the same standard of care wherever they live in the UK and ensuring that clinical staff play a greater role in deciding how the NHS budget is spent. Also that many of the proposed changes were a logical extension of reforms introduced by previous governments including Payment by Results, Foundation Hospitals, the use of independent providers and the further development of clinical commissioning.
He emphasised that it was the government’s intention to listen to concerns and that substantive changes would be made to the proposed reforms in order to address these. He outlined that hospital doctors and nurses would also need to play a role in GP Commissioning Consortia, that 'any willing provider' would be changed to 'any properly qualified provider', competition would not be introduced for 'its own sake' and that there would not be 'cherry picking' of NHS services by private providers.
He confirmed that the proposed changes to the NHS represented evolution rather than revolution and that the NHS in five years time would not be a 'million miles away' from the NHS of today. Mr Cameron concluded by thanking staff from Ealing Hospital and across the NHS for their continued hard work and commitment.
16 May 2011