Long-term thinking is vital if NHS is to meet future challenges A timeframe of at least five years is needed to enable the healthcare system to adapt to the 21st century.
The NHS needs a timeframe spanning at least five years if it is to change into a healthcare system that can face the challenges of the 21st century, a senior healthcare leader has warned.
Dr Mark Britnell, formerly an NHS leader and now global head of health for consultancy KPMG, told a conference of executives that the NHS cannot face the challenges of the next five years by having a series of one year 4% efficiency savings.
He said: "Change takes great courage, vision, leadership and a timeframe spanning at least five years, not one to two."
He added: "We are lacking politically, managerially and arguably clinically, a clear vision for how we change our healthcare system from a 20th century model of care to one that faces the future of the 21st century with more confidence."
Britnell, speaking at the Foundation Trust Network conference, compared the NHS in England with systems from around the world and said there were a number of similar challenges that all face.
He told delegates that healthcare leaders in industrial countries are more concerned about today rather than tomorrow and are preoccupied with making cost efficiencies rather than changing models of care.
He said: "Many health systems dance to political tunes and those tunes are short-term jigs."
Britnell, who is tipped to be a possible candidate for the role of chief executive of NHS England when Sir David Nicholson retires next year, asked: "Who can win a battle over five to 10 years when you're changing the chief executive every 18 months? It's an oxymoron."
He talked about a recent symposium of international healthcare leaders in Rome where they found clear consensus that health systems that prioritise integration of care around patients' needs will be best-placed to deal with the challenges ahead.
He said: "I think it's a crying shame, having travelled the world, that the English NHS with its strong foundations and co-operation can't move to a system over three to five years that looks at the creation of more value as opposed to the creation of more volume. It's happening in other countries as we speak."
He added that what he saw of healthcare leaders at the conference in Rome was "deep and personal commitment to their organisations over 10 years."
He said: "They had the strength and courage to call change if they wanted, they worked and they chartered a course knowing that it would get rough. But they were given the time and space to realise their ambitions for their communities. In those countries, they realised targets were a means to an end and not a target in themselves."
He concluded: "If there's one thing I notice as I travel England is that people have little hope, direction, control and money. If we carry on this way, we will not rise to the challenge of the next five to seven years. Something has to change." Guardian Professional.