Important moment for health and care if Secretary of State's words turn into action

Niall Dickson

Responding to the Secretary of State’s speech about the future of healthcare, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said:

“If the Secretary of State’s words are turned into action, this will be an important moment for the NHS in England. 

“Health is a safety-critical industry – it needs regulation and it needs oversight, but it badly needs a leaner and lighter touch. Local health leaders and clinical staff are frustrated – they are looking to the removal of the barriers that too often waste time and resources, stifle innovation and add nothing to the care and treatment of patients.  

“But we have been here before, with promises to cut red tape swiftly followed by more regulatory burdens on local NHS organisations.

“There are great lessons to be learned from the handling of the pandemic and one of them is that when some regulatory obstacles are removed, when the demands for information are lightened, and when managers and staff are empowered to get on with it, wonderful things can happen. With freedom comes better care for patients. 

“As we head towards a very difficult winter, now is the time to make sure nothing is done to prevent local organisations working and innovating together and finding new ways to deliver joined-up services. And that must include NHS, local authorities, the voluntary sector and industry coming together as equal partners.  

“The challenge for the Secretary of State is to translate his admirable vision into on-the-ground reality.  It will be critical to involve those who plan and deliver local services in this endeavour – and with our members we are keen to work with the government, NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Care Quality Commission to bring this about.  

“We must use the pandemic to chart a new course - too many have died and lost loved ones not to use this moment to deliver services in new and better ways.”


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