The House of Lords Select Committee on the Long-term Sustainability of the NHS has released a report entitled ‘The Long-term Sustainability of the NHS and Adult Social Care’. Overall the report criticises the ‘short-sightedness’ of successive governments for not planning effectively for the health service. In addition, the report highlights that ‘funding for health and adult social care over the past 25 years has been too volatile and poorly co-ordinated’.
There is recognition that for the NHS to continue to function as it does there will need to be changes. To combat this the report recommends that a new independent Office for Health and Care Sustainability be created, which will look ahead at the health and care needs of the public for the next 15-20 years and report back to Parliament.
Specific focus is paid to innovation, technology and productivity. There is heavy criticism of the ‘NHS’s relative failure to secure the take-up of innovation and new technology at scale’, going further to say that the ‘NHS has been slow to adopt and implement new technology’. Reasons for this are identified as being concerns about cost and the complicated procedures that are in place in order to use new technologies.
There is a clear acknowledgement by the Committee of the power of new technologies and how they can deliver a change in the type of care provided by the NHS. However, the report highlights concerns about the lack of encouragement in the uptake of innovation and technology, and there being a lack of clarity as to who should be encouraging this.
In terms of a way forward, it is clear that the service delivery model for the NHS needs to change. There is also recognition that if the ‘Five Year Forward View’ seems to be the only forward planning that has been done in regard to the health service, which is criticised by the Committee, but they feel that if its findings are fully implemented it will improve the NHS. In terms of technology and innovation the Committee urge that the Government make it clear that the adoption of innovation and technology, post-appraisal, should be a priority across the NHS. They go as far as suggesting that the Government make clear to the bodies and areas within the NHS deemed to be ‘failing’ in this respect that there will be “funding and service delivery consequences for those who repeatedly fail to engage” – including possibly relocating services to places that are proven to be more technologically innovative.