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Next government should declare a national health and care emergency – report

When the next government is elected they should call on society to help improve health and care according to the first report of the BMJ Commission on the Future of the NHS.

Government should, in effect, relaunch the NHS with a renewed long term vision and plan, the authors said.

us a flag on pole

The BMJ Commission brings together leading experts from medicine and healthcare to identify the key challenges and priorities and make recommendations aimed at ensuring that the vision of the NHS is realised. 

The first paper in the series examines the relevance of the founding principles of the NHS, now and for the future, and recommends critical changes in the scope, organisation, and governance of the service.

Authors of the report, led by Lord Nigel Crisp, said that the NHS founding principles are still appropriate today and provide a strong foundation for the future, and urged the new government to re-commit to these principles as part of a wider set of actions.

In addition, the NHS also needs long term thinking and stable, consistent policies, they said, recomming the creation of an independent Office for NHS Policy and Budgetary Responsibility to hold government to account for the delivery of NHS plans and policies.

Further recommendations include creating a cross-government and cross-sector health, care, and wellbeing strategy, developing better ways to connect patients, the public, and community groups with the NHS, particularly at local level, and giving immediate priority to tackling inequalities in access and outcomes, with particular attention to the disadvantage and racism suffered by ethnic groups both as patients and NHS staff.

Future papers in the series will examine and produce recommendations on how to deliver health and equity, how to fund and pay for the health service, and how to develop a motivated, happy, well trained workforce while prioritising sustainability and producing a greener NHS.

‘The national health and care crisis we are facing requires an urgent, robust, and values based response,’ said BMJ editor-in-chief Kamran Abbasi and Commission co-chairs Victor Adebowale, Parveen Kumar and Liam Smeeth in an editorial. ‘It requires new thinking and old values.

‘Above all, it requires us to recommit to the founding principles of the NHS, to put the health and wellbeing of our population first, and to revive the spirit of Aneurin Bevan and a nation that came together in the hope of creating a better, fairer, healthier world.’

Images: Seb Doe and simon frederick

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