Visionary new thinking is neededto form a cohesive national health and wellbeing strategy, regardless of which party forms the next government.
Health and wellbeing, and particularly the future of the NHS, is a crucial area for each political party as the election draws closer, with each leader pledging substantial increases in NHS spending, from Labour’s initial £2.5 billion per year pledge to the Conservative’s £8 billion per year above inflation by 2020.
With the current system of managing health and care at breaking point, this financial investment would appear to be insufficient but equally, unsustainable. The present silo-driven healthcare system lacks cohesive strategy and potentially beneficial overlap.
This is not a problem we can just throw money at – it will take more than that. Quite simply, we need to think differently.
The GP crisis exemplifies why the political establishment needs to think smarter. With regular reporting in the media people about patients struggling to get an appointment with their doctor, the solution is not just about increasing numbers of GPs – as each leader pledges – but tackling the root of the problem and ‘managing wellness’ before the need to treat illness arises.
This means implementing a holistic system, which promotes wellness and preventative treatments, through which minor ailments and injuries are treated by pharmacies, for example. The next Government needs to tangibly encourage employers to assist their employees in taking responsibility for their health as an extension of their duty of care through the introduction of tax breaks and legislation.
The private sector should no longer be seen as a competitor to the provision of health and wellbeing, but instead as part of the solution. The entrepreneurial drive and expertise of the private sector should be harnessed. We need to establish a UK body, involving both public and private sectors, with the objective of managing the entire process from start to finish.
Although each party’s respective solution to the current state of UK healthcare involves much needed capital and resources, we need more than that.
We need completely new, visionary thinking which looks at the whole, big picture. We need to bring the sectors together to support each other under one unified strategy.