The Coalition Government's Health & Social Care Act represents the most extensive reorganisation of the structure of the NHS to date. But will new methods of commissioning care actually deliver?
At an event, hosted by Clyde & Co in London on 23 October 2012, a panel of leading experts debated the impact of recent healthcare reforms focussing on the push for integrated services and privatisation.
The panel included: Professor Dean Fathers, Chair of the Nottingham Healthcare NHS Trust; Steve Kell, Chair of the Clinical Commissioning Group for Bassetlaw, North Nottingham; Mark Aichroth, Partner, Circle Health, and Steve Saunders, Director, PWC.
UK Healthcare provision is undeniably undergoing a transformation. "We are changing the way we do business and the key word is access," said Professor Dean Fathers. "We are no longer seeking to build big hospitals. People want care close to home and want issues to be dealt with more quickly. We are becoming more private-sector oriented, focussing on smaller projects and more collaborative deals."
Bassetlaw Clinical Commissioning Group Chair Steve Kell echoed these views. Tougher social challenges presented by an aging population such as dementia have pushed the provision of integrated services to the forefront of NHS strategy. "We need to focus on the whole system and ensure co-ordination among multiple providers," said Steve.
Mark Aichroth of Circle Health highlighted the drivers behind privatisation. "Our changing demographics mean increased demand as well as an increase in more complex, medical conditions," said Mark. "People are also consuming healthcare in a different way - they want more immediate results. On the upside technology can drive efficiency and rigorous target- and standard-setting can drive cost-savings and innovation."
Clyde & Co partner Liz Jenkins, who chaired the discussion, said: "The delivery of healthcare is a turning point in the UK. This year's Health & Social Care Act ushered in sweeping reforms designed to enable new economies of provision. However, the effective provision of services for long term health conditions is dependent on balancing complex, disparate interests. Marketisation alone will not solve the UK's healthcare requirements and further structural and cultural changes may be necessary."