Editor's Comment


Getting out of the red

Source: NHE Nov/Dec 15

As NHE was going to press, the government announced some substantial extra funding for the NHS, frontloaded – as requested by NHS England’s Simon Stevens and others – to the early years of this Parliament. 

The money was welcomed, though the government did not expect and did not receive gratitude – many in the NHS think this is the minimum necessary just to maintain services at their current level, in the face of growing demand. The real key is ringfenced money for transformation, some say. 

The NHS balance sheet must have created some sleepless nights at the Treasury. With every single acute in deficit (news story on p6), the situation was clearly not a case of poorly performing organisations not doing enough to improve efficiency or wasting money – even the best-rated exemplar trusts are obviously in serious financial straits. The picture is hardly rosier in the other sectors – mental health in particular is struggling, public health is facing in-year cuts, and social care is, if anything, in a bigger financial crisis than the NHS. An extra precept on council tax is unlikely to do much to change that. 

Many of the articles in this edition of NHE feature ideas for improvements, a good proportion of them potentially money-saving and quality-improving: from foundation chains to co-location of A&E and primary care services, and from medical leadership of the value-for-money agenda to procurement and supply chain innovation. 

We also have an investigation by my colleague David Stevenson into medication errors in the NHS based on Freedom of Information findings (p54), and an interview by Luana Salles with shadow mental health minister Luciana Berger MP (p20). 

Our cover story relates to an always-thorny issue: health workers’ own health. When does NHS promotion of healthy lifestyles for staff go too far? Is it ethical for candidates for NHS jobs to be rejected for what they do on their own time, whether that be smoking or simply choosing not to exercise? It’s not unheard of – the Cleveland Clinic in the US does not employ smokers, for example. 

Few would question the idea that the NHS should help staff make healthier choices, and therefore to be better role models when giving public health advice. But turning this from a choice into something mandatory crosses an important line. 

Have a read of the pieces by Siva Anandaciva, head of analysis at NHS Providers, on pages 16-17 and by Professor Annie S Anderson, professor of public health nutrition at the University of Dundee, on page 67 – and tell us what you think.

Adam Hewitt



There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

Lancashire County Council to pay £200k in legal costs after Virgin Care legal battle

17/08/2018Lancashire County Council to pay £200k in legal costs after Virgin Care legal battle

Lancashire County Council has agreed to pay £200,000 in legal costs to two NHS Trusts after their decision to hand a £104million cont... more >
Former inadequate West Midlands maternity unit upgraded by CQC

17/08/2018Former inadequate West Midlands maternity unit upgraded by CQC

Walsall Manor Hospital’s maternity services have been given an improved rating from the health inspectorate following assessments made in J... more >
Major hospital stalled by Carillion collapse will go ahead under government funding deal

16/08/2018Major hospital stalled by Carillion collapse will go ahead under government funding deal

The construction of a major Midlands hospital that had its future cast into doubt following the collapse of infrastructure giant Carillion has be... more >


Listening to the frontline

15/08/2018Listening to the frontline

Professor Wendy Reid, executive director of education & quality and national medical director at Health Education England (HEE), shares insig... more >
Medication without harm

15/08/2018Medication without harm

The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Third Global Patient Safety Challenge, ‘Medication without harm,’ is ambitious, b... more >
Stepping up the fight against AMR

15/08/2018Stepping up the fight against AMR

Professor Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, explains what the organisation is doing to support the fight against antimic... 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