Simon Stevens, the new Chief Executive of NHS England has spoken out against the ‘mass centralisation’ of the NHS and how he believes that health spending should be focused on local services, particularly those for elderly people. Mr Stevens said that he believes patients should be treated within their local community to ensure that compassionate care is maintained at all times. He even cites the centralisation of services as one of the reasons why Britain’s hospitals are now listed as some of the worst in Europe. In the same interview he also described Labour introduced waiting time targets as ‘an impediment to care in many cases’.
Under Mr. Stevens new plans care would center around small ‘cottage’ hospitals which had a focus on treating an ageing population due to the fact that currently two thirds of hospital patients are over retirement age. Describing the current system he said: “Too often such patients suffer failings in care, because systems were aredesigned around their needs. You cannot have a modern health service that is not treating older patients with dignity and compassion, supporting them at home and ensuring targeted prevention of ill health”. He went on to suggest that more vulnerable patients were ending up in hospital because of falls and other avoidable accidents which occurred due to a lack of basic help in the local community. “The system of care outside hospitals is too complex, with too much duplication and too many gaps for patients to fall through. There is a big opportunity to reorganise that so it meets the needs of those at home.”
Having spent the past 11 years of his career working for private health care firms in Europe, South America and the USA, Mr Stevens points to examples in the US and Sweden when it comes to the better assimilation of community care teams and hospitals. He tells us that in the US companies have taken steps to ensure community services and hospital specialists work together as one team whilst he describes Sweden as having “better working between health and social care than we have”.
Aside from senior care, Mr Stevens also touched on the obesity epidemic by encouraging businesses to financially reward their employees for losing weight. The new Chief Executive will be making a speech outlining his plans to the NHS Confederation’s Conference in Liverpool next week.