Here, we outline FCC’s take on some key health and care considerations any new administration will need to address based upon the findings from our research activity.
This is the first winter General Election since 1923. Elections outside the normal cycle always have the potential to produce interesting results. What we know is that Brexit is liable to be on voters’ minds. Continued Brexit preparations are a priority, concerns about medical supplies and the stability of the care provider market remain. But, as the campaign gets underway, it is likely that major domestic challenges will also become a significant factor as voters consider key manifesto commitments.
Recently, both the government and opposition parties have promised significant NHS spending commitments, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for FCC’s beneficiaries to make sense of them. Meanwhile, NHS England’s long-term plan sets out a strategic direction for the next ten years, but how we ensure the future sustainability of the service and bring about significant improvements in patient outcomes continues to divide opinion.
A new national conversation: The debate about our future health and wellbeing often centres on short-term thinking and party-political tension. We believe that a Care Covenant could help to articulate peoples’ priorities in relation to a 21st-century health and care system. Our priority is to develop this conversation through co-creation, inviting the evolution of a new social movement to inform future policy decisions. We want everyone in our society to be part of the conversation.
Healthy later life: As our population continues to age it is more important than ever to look at how more people can live healthy independent lives for longer. We have advocated the establishment of a new independent body, similar to the Office for Budget Responsibility which assesses the sustainability of public finances, to set projections for healthy life expectancy and hold the Government to account for future funding and policy decisions with the potential to impact them.
Harnessing the value of healthcare data: UK health and care data have the potential to generate significant clinical, social, economic and commercial value. The next Government should develop a National Health and Care Data Strategy, invest in the capacity of front-line staff to ensure we collect high quality data at source and take steps to prevent the leakage of value from health care data at home and overseas. It could also establish a Sovereign Health Fund or National Health and Care Data Cooperative underpinned by revenues and shares linked to the data, insights, tools and IP developed by or with public health and care organisations to ensure the fair distribution of value from data the NHS controls – now and for generations to come.
Workforce of the Future: Both NHS and social care providers are facing a recruitment and retention challenge. Following the publication of the Interim NHS People Plan in June, the final strategy should go further and accept the skills recommendations outlined in the Topol Review about how to recruit and train sufficient numbers of specialist workers to service/develop new health and care technology. A plan should also be developed to factor in the future digital and tech skills needed amongst social care professionals.
Adult social care featured prominently in the 2017 General Election. Since then, the main political parties have said that they recognise there is an adult social care crisis and have pledged to tackle it. There can be no further delay. The next Government must deliver a new long-term funding settlement.
Supporting carers: Unpaid carers are the backbone of our society and carry out a vital role providing support to family, friends and neighbours. The next government should enhance the rights of unpaid carers by looking at new ways to prioritise their physical and mental health needs. This might include committing to priority treatment for the most common mental and physical health issues developed in the course of undertaking a caring role.
Care market stability and quality service provision: There is little doubt that our care system is in crisis. Yet care is an area of life that we do not know or understand enough about, and this has implications for policy, practice and the lives of people administering and receiving care.
We believe a Digital Duty of Care should mandate the generation of high-quality social care data at source and access to the data, insights and algorithmic tools generated by social care service providers to aid real-time monitoring of provision and safeguarding of individuals in receipt of care. The next Government must invest in what is critical infrastructure – both to bring about provision that is fit for purpose in the 21st century and to stimulate the development of a data-driven care technology sector.
Design communities for age and mobility: Age and disability should not be overlooked when designing new communities. As our population continues to age it is more important than ever to look at how people can live healthy independent lives in later life. FCC has argued that planning policy should ensure our homes and communities are designed for age and mobility so that more people are able to take care of themselves and their families at home for longer.
Greg Allen, Chief Executive of Future Care Capital, said:
“Whilst politicians continue to clash over Brexit and the country heads towards a fractious winter election, the development of solutions to pressing domestic challenges remain on pause. Stark choices will face the next government in its first 100 days. Brexit is liable to dominate its agenda, but there must be a pivot towards addressing key domestic issues that have been overshadowed for too long. The purpose of our election policy statement is to draw the main parties’ attention to ideas that could improve health and care outcomes. When commitments are made, they must be seen through. Action is needed now.”
The case must be made for ideas that will help shape future health and social care policy to deliver better outcomes for society.
FCC is committed to working with all political parties to deliver the right health and care services for our country. Our policy positions are designed to encourage a positive debate about the future and the potential for change that will benefit patients and improve the experience of health and care services for all. We look forward to expanding on our policy positions during the election campaign.