The NHS Five Year Forward View – Foreword

The NHS may be the proudest achievement of our modern society.

It was founded in 1948 in place of fear – the fear that many people had of being unable to afford medical treatment for themselves and their families. And it was founded in a spirit of optimism – at a time of great uncertainty, coming shortly after the sacrifices of war.

Our nation remains unwavering in that commitment to universal healthcare, irrespective of age, health, race, social status or ability to pay. To high quality care for all.

Our values haven’t changed, but our world has. So the NHS needs to adapt to take advantage of the opportunities that science and technology offer patients, carers and those who serve them. But it also needs to evolve to meet new challenges: we live longer, with complex health issues, sometimes of our own making. One in five adults still smoke. A third of us drink too much alcohol. Just under two thirds of us are overweight or obese.

These changes mean that we need to take a longer view – a Five-Year Forward View – to consider the possible futures on offer, and the choices that we face. So this Forward View sets out how the health service needs to change, arguing for a more engaged relationship with patients, carers and citizens so that we can promote wellbeing and prevent ill-health.

It represents the shared view of the NHS’ national leadership, and reflects an emerging consensus amongst patient groups, clinicians, local communities and frontline NHS leaders. It sets out a vision of a better NHS, the steps we should now take to get us there, and the actions we need from others.

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