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Doctors call for ‘declutter’ of ineffective integration initiatives

The NHS requires a “radical rethink” to simplify and fix the increasingly complicated healthcare landscape in the UK, a group of influential doctors has this week stated.

The government has also been told to form a working group to bring together doctors, patients, the public and politicians to discuss solutions to ease the pressure the NHS is currently facing.

This call comes from the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh (RCPE), which has set out a list of four priorities for the government, whatever its colour, to focus on when it comes into power after the election on 8 June.

One key point included funding the NHS for a sustainable future, as the RCPE called for a “declutter” to costly initiatives currently hindering NHS England from delivering quality patient care and retaining talented staff.

The group also highlighted the need to invest in the workforce for the future and create a culture which gives doctors the time to care, train and research to the best of their abilities.

Finally, progressing towards a better, well-funded health and social care sector – as well as prioritising the prevention of obesity through continuing public health initiatives, such as reducing portion sizes and controlling promotions and sugar levels in unhealthy products like fizzy drinks – was branded essential to easing pressure on healthcare services.

“Our members working in the NHS in England are facing unprecedented challenges as they strive to deliver the best possible patient care on a daily basis,” said Professor Derek Bell, president of the RCPE. “Decades of reform in the NHS in England have resulted in a very complex management system plagued by many costly initiatives that are not based on evidence and do not have a clear strategic plan.

“It is time for a radical rethink to declutter these initiatives and address the unprecedented challenges that are impacting on the workforce and, ultimately, on patient care.”

He underlined the importance of the government setting up a working group involving the royal colleges, healthcare practitioners, patients, the public, and politicians alike “as a matter of urgency” to find solutions to alleviate pressures facing the NHS.

“Sharing best practice between the UK government, the devolved governments and those delivering care can help create an environment that supports all those working within the NHS,” he added.

Prof Bell also stated that the government needed to better ensure that initiatives being pursued to integrate health and social care, such as sustainability and transformation plans (STPs), should have strong evidence to back them up.

And he added: “Investment in our current and future workforce is essential, both financially and to create a culture where colleagues have the time to care, time to train, and time to research.

“We acknowledge the funding challenges that the NHS faces but believe that by rethinking our approach to focus on long-term and sustainable solutions, we can achieve a world-class workforce delivering the best possible patient care safely.”

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