Since its foundation in 1948 the NHS has remained true to its core principles:
It meets the needs of everyone;
It is free at the point of delivery; and
It is based on clinical need and not the ability to pay.
Although almost 70 years have passed since then, our values haven’t changed. However, the clinical and social challenges we are presented with have. Our population is living longer, often with multiple chronic comorbidities, so that now approximately 70% of our healthcare spend is now allocated to the management of chronic disease. Does the system we designed in the 1940s serve us as well now as it did then? In 2017 if we were to design a new NHS would we start from here? How can we utilise the latest, greatest innovations to deliver the healthcare service we need?
HEALTHCARE NEEDS ARE CHANGING GLOBALLY
The challenges presented by an ageing population with multiple chronic conditions are not unique to the UK or the NHS. Many countries across our planet are grappling with how best to deal with these issues and deliver the often quoted triple aims of better health, better care, delivered with higher quality and at a lower cost. Nations have faced grand challenges in the past and the words of Abraham Lincoln in his speech to Congress in December 1862 ring true now for the challenges we face in health care:
‘The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.’
The future of healthcare often appears to be piled high with difficulty. Sometimes being the largest, longest established healthcare system …