In response to the Prime Minister’s announcement on NHS pressures and general practice, the New NHS Alliance is calling for a cohesive ‘whole system’ approach together with a new focus on keeping people well, rather than scapegoating GPs for the increased emergency demand and pressures facing hospitals.
CEO, Merron Simpson, said: “The current NHS problems are not the fault of any single part of the health system; it is well known that they are due to a mismatch between types and level of demand, the peculiarities of a health system that is badly in need of reform and a chronically underfunded social care sector that is now being stretched beyond breaking point. We know that measurement and financial incentives are set up in all the wrong ways and that those places that are really trying to adopt better and Health Creating approaches that better meet the realities of day to day life in the communities in which they are based – and reduce demand in the process – are having to bend the rules to do so. We need to re-write the rule-book and re-set the financial incentives so they work in favour of health creation and of outcomes for people, rather than being based on throughput in specific parts of the system”.
GP Ken Aswani, New NHS Alliance spokesperson on primary care, added: “Health is built in the community; we must take action alongside our communities to stem demand. The NHS has made strides in encouraging self care in the population, but we are fighting against a consumer culture. The crisis in the nation’s health belongs to all of us, not just the NHS. At New NHS Alliance, we see communities as assets and draw on the capabilities of the full range of sectors – such as housing, the police, education, fire service and local businesses. We call for local discussions, through the STPs process, to see where we can unlock these assets and hidden wisdom to find solution to some of the most wicked problems; the avoidance of social isolation, finding out ‘what matters to you’ as much as ‘what’s the matter with you’ and addressing the causes of the causes of health problems needs greater focus.”
“Greater efforts must be made to ensure patients are aware of the available self care resources and the excellent heath-care advice and support on offer at local community pharmacies. We deplore cuts in the community pharmacy services – high street access to support for minor illness and the management of long term conditions is needed now more than ever. Interventions such as patients having access to their records can also increase primary care capacity.”
New NHS Alliance also acknowledges that there are significant variation in operational quality – again, across the whole system – and that measures to improve the worst would help.
Dr Brian Fisher, Vice-Chair, commented: “General practice is under severe strain with too few GPs and increasing demand and a freezing financial climate.”
“There is evidence that improved GP access results in less demand at A+E and that the relevance of the assistance provided varies. We point to GP surgeries like Hope Citadel in Oldham where nurses help local people with financial and housing problems where these are the underlying reasons for presenting. And places like Wigan where social workers routinely signpost people back to community groups and sources of neighbourhood support. Hospitals also improve if they have well run emergency departments, improved flow through the hospital and effective arrangements for discharge. There are a number of ways in which A+E can safely reduce demand. For instance, routing to a primary care service based in the hospital the 30% of patients who do not need A+E.”
The NHS is not failing but it could be made to fail. The current casting of GPs as the weak link is inaccurate, unwise, unwelcome and likely to backfire. LMCs have already threatened to take industrial action.
It smacks of desperation on the part of the government to blame sectors of the NHS and care; to refuse to accept that there is a huge and growing problem in health and care delivery, and to play fast and loose with the facts about funding. Theresa May’s criticism of NHS England chief Simon Stevens for not doing enough to try to alleviate the crisis – despite his valiant efforts at system transformation – was both unreasonable and counter intuitive.
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Notes to editors:
- For enquiries, please contact: Judy Harris at email@example.com or on 07717 691845
- New NHS Alliance mission is … ‘to infect the UK health system with wellness’. You can find more information here
- New NHS Alliance has a goal to make Health Creation and health creating practices a core part of the UK healthcare system alongside a greater focus on prevention. We believe that this is the best way to reduce health inequalities and deliver a sustainable health service. Click here for a short briefing paper on Health Creation.
- You can find coverage of our Health Creation Action Summit here
- We intend to publish a ‘Manifesto for the adoption of health creating practices’ in the spring of 2017