Editor's Comment


Do we need another commission?

Source: NHE Jan/Feb 16

While it is good to see real impetus behind a new cross-party commission on health and social care involving ex-health ministers from the three main parties in England, I do wonder whether they will simply end up re-treading the same ground that was combed over in exhaustive detail by the Barker Commission. 

The final report from that body is still available online and should be read, as should the plea from the same commissioners in November lamenting the lack of progress on the issues they raised, a year on.  

Unfortunately, because the Commission tackled head-on the big taboo about the hole in health and care funding and even suggested some alternative models, politicians felt they had to run a mile from it. The original September 2014 report advocated a single budget for the NHS and social care, new funding streams and changes to prescription charges, as well as more free care for those who need it – ultimately putting an end to the historic divide between the two sectors. It was followed up in June 2015 with ‘Beyond Barker’, which again restated the “overwhelming” case for change, for alignment between health and care, and for bottom-up, commissioner-led change – not top-down imposition and structural reform. 

The fact is, the way the NHS is funded and used is politically totemic and inviolable – but social care is not. Social care funding and how people pay is confusing for the general public and they just do not understand it in the same way as they do the NHS. Seeing as free social care in England is not going to happen any time soon (just look at the way the Dilnot recommendations on cost caps were watered down, then postponed to at least 2020), the politics of ‘alignment’ – both within Westminster and out in the country – are clearly hazardous for any government. 

As The King’s Fund makes clear on page 18 of this edition, a truly sustainable health and social care settlement seems as far away as ever. The effects of this failure are being felt across the system, and it is only thanks to the kinds of innovations and efficiencies that we cover elsewhere in this issue that the situation is not even worse. 

On a final note, this will be my last Editor’s Comment for NHE – I am departing the magazine to leave you in the capable hands of David Stevenson, who takes over from February. Thanks to all the readers and contacts who’ve made it such an amazing job to edit NHE since 2011.


Marvin   16/02/2016 at 21:16

Each hospital is crammed full of unnecessary administrative staff! These establishments are run like a hoarder manages - just as a hoarder will purchase more and more cupboards to put useless junk in so the hospital management open more and more useless departments resulting in a huge waste of money and a lack of efficiency! The NHS is likely to suffer even more problems in the future. The title of Doctor is much prized in certain regions of the world - and because we have a very large number of such populations in the UK - the parents are forcing their children to study to become Doctors, even when the young person does not want to become a medical practitioner. I am a teacher - I see this on a daily basis - and when I point out that the young person would gain much benefit for their future in helping voluntarily in the field, my suggestion is treated with great derision. This means that a great number of people training to be doctors are doing so just for the title and the personal benefit they gain among their own people - NOT for the benefit of the sick and dying people! This is so wrong! Those who wish to become Doctors should enter into nursing to begin with and then study further to become a doctor! This would ensure that such people are intent on helping others rather than themselves, and the NHS would receive a higher respect from the public - at present - anyone can be a medical doctor just by studying for a certain number of years as one would for any degree. Charging for car parking at Hospitals is disgusting! Making money out of other people's misery! That should also be abolished.

Add your comment


national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

One in six trusts could end PFI contracts due to poor performance as NHS heads for £1bn loss

19/10/2018One in six trusts could end PFI contracts due to poor performance as NHS heads for £1bn loss

A new report has revealed that 15% of all NHS trusts using private finance initiatives (PFI) could terminate contracts due to poor performance. ... more >
Council strips contract from NHS trusts and hands it to Virgin after High Court row

18/10/2018Council strips contract from NHS trusts and hands it to Virgin after High Court row

Lancashire County Council (LCC) has awarded a controversial £104m healthcare contract to Virgin Care for the second time after a hearing in... more >
Brand-new children’s hospital for Leeds as £450m plan revealed

18/10/2018Brand-new children’s hospital for Leeds as £450m plan revealed

New plans for a “world-class” children’s hospital site and a second state-of-the-art adult hospital building have been revealed... more >


Recoup and recover

10/10/2018Recoup and recover

The ease and round-the-clock nature of making cashless payments has transformed the way we pay for goods and services – and, from now on, t... more >
The clinical voice at the heart of procurement

10/10/2018The clinical voice at the heart of procurement

Jo Gander, director of the Clinical and Product Assurance (CaPA) team, talks about their role as part of the new NHS Supply Chain. NHS Suppl... more >
Deal or no deal?

10/10/2018Deal or no deal?

Dr Andrew Dearden, BMA treasurer and Brexit lead, takes a look at what different Brexit scenarios could means for both patients and healthcare pr... more >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

last word

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now bey... more > more last word articles >


Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >
Cutting through the fake news

22/11/2017Cutting through the fake news

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ growing alongside a renewed focus on reducing stigma around mental health, Paul Farmer, chief exec... more >
Tackling infection prevention locally

04/10/2017Tackling infection prevention locally

Dr Emma Burnett, a lecturer and researcher in infection prevention at the University of Dundee’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and a boar... more >

health service focus

View all News