The NHS can rise to the challenge, Simon Stevens tells NHS leaders

NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens today (Wednesday) sets out critical steps the Health Service must take to address head-on the challenges it faces over the next five years and beyond.

The NHS faces a “defining moment” in its history, he will tell the NHS Confederation annual conference in Liverpool.

“I know there are enormous pressures, but the NHS is up for change, and necessity truly is the mother of invention. Great effort has gone into analysing the challenges. People now want to get on with developing solutions.”

Mr Stevens highlights three particular approaches the NHS will now be taking:

First, “unleashing more health and care bangs for the buck” – by far reaching changes in how hospitals and community services are funded.  An increasing proportion of their payments from NHS England and local Clinical Commissioning Groups will be explicitly tied to prevention, quality of care, and patients’ own views.

Second, new local options to radically redesign the way GPs, local hospitals, social care and community health services work together – ending many of the historical demarcations that have existed since the creation of the NHS 1948.

“We need different solutions for diverse communities. Horses for courses, not one size fits all,” he argues. “In some places mergers and reconfigurations will of course be needed. But in other cases the changing needs of our patients – often frail, some with dementia, many with multiple other health problems – coupled with the opportunities of new technology may mean we can better support people at home and locally.

“It’s the energy and commitment of NHS staff, of our patients and our partners that can generate the answers.”

Third, Mr Stevens says the NHS must aggressively harness wider global changes in modern medicine, adding:  “The NHS should be at the forefront of the coming revolution in personalised medicine, the use of data to drive transparency and proactive care, and the full engagement of patients in their own care.”

He will announce the launch of a new process to select the nation’s leading teaching hospitals and clinical research centres to join the UK’s new 100,000 genome programme – one of the world’s highest profile initiatives in this area.

He will explain how the process will kick off later this month, with the first wave of trusts announced in the autumn, and beginning their work in early 2015.

Mr Stevens adds: “As a country we should be  rigorously pro-science, pro-research, and pro-the rapid spread of useful health improvement.”

He will also argue that investment in the NHS has supported a healthy and growing Britain, adding: “The British people’s support for our health service is undimmed. The need for the superb care our staff strives to offer has never been greater. If we all pull together, I am optimistic we can get this right.”