Why does the NHS need to change?
- Firstly, because the population has changed. People are living longer and the population is rising. We have an ageing population in which many more people have ongoing physical or mental health conditions, meaning we are treating more people than ever, with more complex conditions.
- Secondly, because there is a huge variation in quality across local health services, depending on where and when services are accessed. Although we have some excellent local services, many of services are not meeting minimum safety standards set by clinicians. That’s not good enough for our patients.
- Thirdly, because the NHS as a whole is facing a massive financial challenge – our budget increased each year in line with inflation, but the costs of providing care are going up much faster than that. We know that if we do nothing and continue to provide exactly the same services, then by 2018, we will be £210 million short. That would lead to the risk of an unacceptable decline in the quality of services, leading almost certainly to intervention at national level, meaning we had no say over the future of our services.
- Finally, we have a big challenge in terms of our workforce. Medicine has become more and more advanced and doctors have become more and more specialised. This is good for patients as if they are in the right place, they are likely to get the best treatment. But it does mean there are shortages of specialists in some key clinical areas – one example is specialists in treating children. There aren’t enough senior doctors (consultants) available for us to meet the London Quality Standards – which are minimum safety standards supported by all 32 London CCGs – in all of our hospitals.