Public must help make tough choices for NHS (UK)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 19 July 2013




(2013), "Public must help make tough choices for NHS (UK)", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 26 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Public must help make tough choices for NHS (UK)

Article Type: News and views From: Leadership in Health Services, Volume 26, Issue 3

Keywords: Sustainable Health Services and Choice, Healthcare Improvement Outcomes, NHS and Change Management

The NHS faces four “tough choices”, the NHS Confederation has stated, as it calls for a transparent discussion with the public over the future of sustainable services.

Such a debate is necessary to help people understand why changes are necessary to improve outcomes, care, compassion and sustainable finances.

With the NHS spending almost a fifth of its budget on treating disease from lifestyle choices, such as liver disease, and pay costs not falling as fast as they might have done, change will be necessary, the NHS Confederation has argued in its new report.

The four choices are to do nothing; to spend more; to do more for less; or to do things differently. There will be advantages and disadvantages associated with each choice, but the NHS must do much more to involve the public in these choices to rebuild confidence in the health service.

NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said: “The NHS has come under fire in recent weeks and has been accused of not being open and honest with patients and the public.

“We need to address this head-on and make sure that our public services are fully accountable to the people who pay for them.

“The NHS is facing severe pressure on its finances. We are coming to a critical juncture and need to have a frank discussion about the road ahead. This is a crucial time to show our commitment to improving the way we work and how we involve the public in decisions about their care.

“The simple truth is that we have been slow to change the NHS into a truly modern and efficient service. In the past the easier options have been to spend more money on health or to focus on doing more for less.

“We know we can do much more to create an affordable system that works in the best interests of patients. Getting real bang for our buck will require some tough choices and will require strong political will and public support.

“We need to talk openly and honestly with the public about why our health services need to change, presenting all the facts. We need to talk about what needs to happen, where it needs to happen and why.

“If we fail to discuss these issues now, we will have no mandate for change in the future. We will feel the full force of public wrath for failing to consult on the choices we have. We cannot risk the wheels coming off and patient care suffering. That is something that no one wants to see happen.”

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