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A problem of life expectancy


Blog headlines

  • UK’s National Health Service teams up with the Radio Society of Great Britain to improve health and wellbeing
    4 March 2021

    This week's blog is by Paul Devlin, Emergency Care Improvement Support Team (ECIST), NHS England and NHS Improvement.

  • Structuring a PCN Social Prescribing Service for the post COVID world
    25 February 2021

    This week we have a blog by Nick Sharples.

  • Community-Oriented Integrated Care
    18 February 2021

    The blog this week is a short extract from a paper considering an approach primary care networks could use to move towards community-oriented integrated care.

  • Strategy Unit releases opensource model for planning vaccine centre capacity
    11 February 2021

    This week's blog is from The Strategy Unit who are sharing an opensource model to help with vaccine centre capacity planning.

  • Time to talk day
    4 February 2021

    A small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference.

  • Supporting Staff: the emergence of ‘long-covid’
    28 January 2021

    As we are now well into a second, or is it now the third, wave of Covid-19 it is becoming apparent that Covid is something we have not experienced before and it has unique implications for staff management. It is not just the possibility that staff may become acutely ill with the virus, but that for some they may go on to develop persistent debilitating symptoms that will affect their ability to go back to work. This article looks at the implications of long-covid for HR and service managers when looking to support health care professionals (HCPs) return to work.

  • Link of the week: Clinically-Led workforce and Activity Redesign (CLEAR)
    21 January 2021

    This week we are sharing a link to the Clinically-Led workforce and Activity Redesign (CLEAR) site that is funded by Health Education England.

  • So much more than an extra pair of hands
    14 January 2021

    The introduction of the additional roles reimbursement scheme for primary care networks has started to grow capacity in general practice to address the unsustainably high workload that has put so much pressure on GPs.

  • Primary Care Networks – how did we get here?
    7 January 2021

    This week we are sharing a blog by PCC’s chairman David Colin-Thomé.

  • A year like no other
    17 December 2020

    On 5 July 1948 the NHS was born, over the last 72 years challenges and changes have been remarkable but the service has probably never been tested as much as in the last nine months. There have previously been numerous re-organisations, multiple changes to hospitals, mental health services and a shift from the family doctor towards more integrated primary care services delivered by a range of professionals. However, rapid transformation of services to embrace digital technologies, and a shift change to work differently has been forced upon all areas of the health service this year.

  • Guest blog: David Hotchin
    11 December 2020

    This week we have a guest blog that was submitted to us by David Hotchin, written by a retired friend....obviously, he's used a little poetic licence.

  • What now for commissioning?
    3 December 2020

    By Professor David Colin-Thomé, OBE, chair of PCC and formerly a GP for 36 years, the National Clinical Director of Primary, Dept of Health England 2001- 10 and visiting Professor Manchester and Durham Universities.

  • What White people don’t see
    26 November 2020

    This year’s Black History Month (BHM) has, unfortunately, in its shadow another example of why campaigns like this exist.

  • Primary Care: Why don’t we talk about Racism?
    20 November 2020

    Rita Symons is an ex NHS leader who is now a leadership consultant, coach and facilitator. Her work is mainly in the NHS and she is an associate for PCC offering facilitation, coaching, strategy development and team development activities. She is a concerned but hopeful world citizen and combines work in the NHS with a board role in a non for profit organisation and an interest in writing.

  • Primary Care and the Health of the Public
    12 November 2020

    By Professor David Colin-Thomé, OBE, chair of PCC and formerly a GP for 36 years, the National Clinical Director of Primary, Dept of Health England 2001- 10 and visiting Professor Manchester and Durham Universities.

  • What now for primary care
    4 November 2020

    By Professor David Colin-Thomé, OBE, chair of PCC and formerly a GP for 36 years, the National Clinical Director of Primary, Dept of Health England 2001- 10 and visiting Professor Manchester and Durham Universities.

  • Boosting your resilience
    30 October 2020

    The last year has been a difficult one, who would have imagined last Christmas that we would have been in lockdown, with the NHS seriously tested by a global pandemic. So much change has happened and the resilience of people working in and with health and care services has been seriously tested. Resilience is our ability to deal with, find strengths in and/or recover from difficult situations. Its sometimes referred to as “bounceabiliy” – but bouncing in what way?

  • Link of the week: National Cholesterol Month
    23 October 2020

    Every month or week of the year seems to be an awareness week, October has more than its fair share.

  • New redeployment service offers talent pool of motivated, work-ready individuals
    15 October 2020

    People 1st International have shared some of the work they are doing to support people displaced from industries due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There is an opportunity for health and care services to benefit from this workforce.

  • Link of the week
    9 October 2020

    Article published in the BMJ looking at the ability of the health service to quickly bounce back to pre-Covid levels of activity and considers if it is desirable.

Friday, 12 August 2016

A problem of life expectancy

You may have missed the NHS’s 68th birthday last month. It was a quiet affair.

Perhaps nobody felt much like celebrating after a horrible year which saw the junior doctors’ dispute, GP shortages, demoralised nurses, embattled managers, failing hospitals, missed targets, rows about staffing and safety, inspections, investigations and – as a consequence of all the above – more reviews, plans and initiatives than ever.

The hope of more money for the NHS was briefly plastered on the side of a bus. But the bus left and its jolly driver gave up buses and got a job abroad. The ever-depleting NHS coffers are earmarked for vulnerability, resilience, sustainability and support. Transformation, the bright side of this gloomy remedial treatment plan, looks increasingly wistful and irony-laden. 

The NHS finds itself like many a 68 year-old facing an uncertain future. What little money it has is all going on repairs, insurance policies that may not pay out, servicing debts and bailing out spendthrift relatives.  

This is the matriarch who has spent a lifetime looking after others but now suddenly finds her own health failing.

Her dependants have come to rely on her ability to weather a crisis, to bounce back. She wouldn’t abandon us now. It’s unthinkable.

We live in an age of unthinkables. Brexit, Isis and Trump to name a few. The death of the NHS is suddenly all too thinkable.

The obsession with financial balance provides a convenient cover for the fact that the current account is the least of our worries.

As Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, reminded us this week, the number of people living beyond 75 years will more than double by 2035.

The older population – that’s some of us now, all of us in future – accounts for two-thirds of spending in health and adult social care. Demand is soaring and funding is not keeping up.

The government says there is no more money. Leading health economists agree with Chris Hopson that there is not enough money. They may well both be right, but somebody has to be righter.

Transformation is the name of the eventual NHS in which there are fewer big buildings, more local services, better organised professional networks, cleverer IT, healthier people less likely to become ill and better able to care for themselves when they do, no corner shop general practices, a focus on people not conditions or institutions, personalised medicines, an end to third-class mental health care, and generous social care for the centenarian victims of our ever-increasing medical success.

The idea that changes of this magnitude can be squeezed out of either back-office costs or the pay bill is delusional.

Meanwhile the ageing population, obesity, mental health, broken social care and other pressures on the system are not going to wait patiently while we decide what we can afford.

If the answer is still no more money, then the question is: how much less NHS do you want?

Editor: Julian Patterson