The timing, and the timeline, is very deliberate: this is NHS England’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, setting his stall for next year’s general election.
Whichever party (or parties) form/s the next government will have to decide whether they take this vision on. And whether they are willing to pay for it.
This is a crucial point because Stevens has addressed the enduring taboo of money. Politicians are largely in a state of denial about the funding crisis facing the NHS, forecasted to be short by about £30 billion by 2020/21.
That’s just under a third of the annual budget of the NHS. Stevens is clear: if you want the NHS to continue providing a universal health care service, free at the point of delivery, you cannot escape the fact that more money will need to be found.
For a pre-election period, where more spending, even on the NHS, is avoided like the plague by political parties, this is the very definition of throwing down the gauntlet.
So what does the vision say? Continue reading