International news and updates


International Insights from Confed19

The international content was incredibly well received at Confed19 on 19 and 20 June, including two genuinely exciting and thought-provoking keynote speeches, a Brexit session, and a session on peer learnings around international commercial engagement for the NHS.

Lessons from Japan on ageing and healthcare

Ryoji Noritake, CEO of the Health and Global Policy Institute in Japan shed light on the many commonalities between the UK and Japan health systems. In particular, the need to focus health service planning on an ever-ageing population – and how that must include a sustainable plan for the funding of social care. He explained how Japan has introduced citizen-centred multi-stakeholder community-based integration of care, has implemented national long-term care insurance for people aged over 40, and has prioritised investment in non-health interventions for the ageing population. He really struck home when he asked: when did we start to talk about ageing just as a burden, or from a cost-effective perspective? Longevity is part of the long-term happiness of human beings. More more information from HGPI on Japan’s health policy in English.

Lessons from the US on racial inequalities in healthcare

David Williams, Professor of Public Health at Harvard University, also energised the audience with his insights of how race affects the health of our staff and patients due both to individual and institutionalised racism, and is associated with higher rates of premature death and a wide range of adverse health outcomes. He said that according to international research, hiring from diverse sources and ensuring minority representation at all levels can help reduce racial discrimination and help increase respect and job satisfaction. Food for thought.

Brexit Insights

Our Brexit session brought NHS England’s EU Exit Strategic Commander Keith Willet to speak, alongside Susan Acott, the CEO of East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, and Marsha McAdam, an expert by experience of accessing NHS care for both physical and mental health needs.

Keith Willet considered that the emergency systems used to prepare for Brexit worked well, though several audience members reflected that Brexit will not be able to be considered an ‘emergency’ forever and could become part of business as usual. Susan Acott delivered sobering insight of some of the practical challenges of being near the border in terms of traffic concerns reducing access to her trust’s services for patients and staff. Marsha McAdam emphasised the anxiety caused by uncertainty and unclear communications around how Brexit would impact patients.

In the discussion, concerns about staff, particularly social care staff, were most prominent. As one attendee put it: “Such an informative and interesting session on Brexit; very refreshing to hear senior leaders honestly express their anxieties and concerns about the everyday realities of a no deal’. This frank and insightful discussion, delivered to a standing-room-only-crowd, demonstrated that despite fears of so-called ‘Brexit fatigue’, the health service is still very much engaged in the risks of Brexit. A poll of the Confed19 audience in the final session found that 91% of people were concerned about impact of a no-deal Brexit on the NHS (of the remainder, 4% considered Brexit unlikely to happen). 

International commercial engagement for the NHS

The NHS Confederation’s international special interest group presented a fascinating session on peer learning for international commercial engagement. Richard Stubbs, CEO from Yorkshire and Humber AHSN chaired a lively, insightful and frank discussion led by Allison Joynson, Director of International Projects at NHS Northumbria International Alliance, and Alison Shutt, Commercial and International Development Director at Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

They shared their experiences of developing and delivering their trusts’ international activity, and what support is most helpful. We were able to bring representatives from NHS England and Improvement and from HealthcareUK so that these discussions could feed directly into developing the NHS Long Term Plan’s NHS Export Collaborative, and to hear directly from HealthcareUK about NHS opportunities with the Prosperity Fund’s Better Health Programme. If your NHS organisation is an NHS Confederation member, please email if you’d like to discuss joining our International NHS Special Interest Group.

Other international insights

Eva Weinreich-Jensen, President of HOPE (the EU body representing hospitals associations, at which we represent the NHS) shared Denmark’s experiences of implementing care close to or in the home, rather than in hospitals.She emphasised the need for good cooperation between health and social care, and to recognise the complexity of the endeavour.

The AHSNs session looked at why a global perspective is key for health care innovation; a National Association of Primary Care session highlighted work to apply the model of Ribera Salud in Spain for things like data sharing, clinical protocols and clear accountability; and Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, presented on the city’s approach to homelessness that was inspired by a model in Finland.

Finally, there was a session on how the NHS contributes to local social and economic transformation – this is a version of the session we will be delivering at the World Hospital Congress in Oman later this year to showcase NHS leadership in this emerging area.

New publications launched by NHS Confederation on international topics at Confed19

  • The NHS European office launched a new one-page infographic summarising what we achieved for the NHS in the last year. Take a look here.
  • The NHS Confederation International Special Interest Group launched their first briefing, focused on the reasons an NHS organisation would want to explore international commercial engagement, and how to get started. 

Planning for next year

Is there anything you’d like to see included on an international theme at next year’s conference (or at another Confed event)? Please email with your suggestions.


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What the new Prime Minister will mean for the NHS | Niall Dickson

15 / 7 / 2019 8.44am

Barring the unexpected, Boris Johnson will be our next Prime Minister. And this matters for all of us concerned about the NHS. Apart from his own priorities, he will bring a new Chancellor, possibly a new Health Secretary in England and, of course, continued uncertainty about Brexit and much else. Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, reinforces what we need to make sure stays on the political agenda.

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