UK: In The Spotlight: How Might The Appointment Of Our New Health Secretary Impact Health And Care?

Last Updated: 14 August 2018
Article by Karen Taylor

In the three weeks since the NHS celebrated its 70th birthday, much has happened. From the appointment of a new Health Secretary, Matt Hancock MP, to the unravelling of the details of the national pay award. Meanwhile, hospital activity shows no let up and concerns over staffing and other resource shortages continue to build. This week's blog provides my take on the Health Secretary's maiden speech and its implications for the current health care system.

In his first speech, delivered on 20 July at his local hospital West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, the Health Secretary set out his top three priorities for health and care. He stated at the outset that he views the NHS as one of our nation's greatest achievements and that his commitment to the health service, and the fundamental principles that underpin it, is not just professional, but is deeply personal. He acknowledged that there are many challenges facing the sector such as:

  • growing childhood obesity
  • increasing antimicrobial resistance
  • the impact of modern living on mental health
  • huge workforce issues, from constraints on pay to increasing workloads.

He also highlighted a number of achievements such as the NHS's response to increasing demand, and the fact that the NHS treated more than half a million extra patients within 18 weeks of referral compared to five years ago, and that thousands of more people are alive today due to improved cancer survival rates. He also discussed another theme ran throughout his speech, namely his 'frustration' about patchy take up of technology innovation.1

He noted that the Prime Minister's funding announcement of a 3.4 per cent average annual growth over the next 5 years is equivalent to a real term budget increase of £20 billion; which should help provide a sustainable approach to NHS funding over the medium term. However, he made clear that, in response, he expects the NHS to reduce and tackle waste in the health service, and focus on using this new money to work smarter and more effectively. He emphasised that of the many areas that are vying for his attention, his three earliest priorities across the whole health and social care system are workforce, technology and prevention.

On workforce, he committed to identifying opportunities to give the whole workforce the chance to fulfil their potential to enable the health and care system to operate at its best. He acknowledged the point argued in our recent report, Time to care: Securing a future for the hospital workforce in the UK, that the nation's health is determined by the health of the health and care workforce. He was concerned to see first-hand how undervalued NHS staff often feel and promised that the commitment staff show to patients will be matched by the commitment his Department will show to staff. Specifics included providing staff with the best training and support – to ensure that the right number of people with the right skills are able to provide the safest and highest quality of care to patients. He also emphasised the importance of leadership development, and that the NHS leadership community must do more to reflect the wider workforce. He was therefore setting up a panel of clinical and professional advisers, from a cross-section of the NHS and social care workforce to address this issue. It will be interesting to see how this impacts the national workforce strategy which initially expected to be published alongside the NHS birthday celebrations, is now postponed until autumn? Lest hope the explanation is as simple as that.

His second priority is technology, and emphasised that "the entire £20bn proposed for the NHS will be contingent on modern technological transformation." Moreover, the overarching message from the speech suggests that additional money will be ring fenced for digital technology, and that access to the new funds could be contingent on deploying the "very best" technology. Moreover, technology that facilitates integration and sharing patient data at a system level will receive more favourable consideration.

He stated that the appropriate use of technology is a catalyst for greater connectivity and empowerment – not only saving time and money, but also in improving patient safety. To emphasise this point he highlighted 'Scan4Safety' – a barcode tracking technology in hospitals that enable staff to track all patients, their treatments and manage medical supplies. This technology driven innovation is driving improvements in patient safety while saving money as demonstrated by a pilot across 6 hospitals that have already saved £8.7 million.2

Other innovations highlighted during the speech include:

  • an initiative in West Suffolk in which junior doctors and nurses will shortly install a new smartphone app, removing the need to phone colleagues for details after getting paged. A pilot has shown that the app could save nurses more than 20 minutes and doctors almost 50 minutes every shift
  • the RCN's 'every nurse an e-nurse' approach is showing how electronic health records and other smart tools can help nurses in and out of hospital work together to address the needs of patients who have a range of health problems.

The Health Secretary noted that "only in health and care has new technology always seemed to lead to inexorably higher costs, compared to every other area of life, where innovation reduces waste and drives costs down not up." To make this happen he announced a half a billion pound package to help jump start the rollout of innovative technology aimed at improving care for patients and supporting staff to embrace technology-driven health and care.

Finally, his third priority, prevention, described as key to taking pressure off staff and improving patient outcomes, including keeping people out of hospital. Prevention will be particularly important, given that over 10 million more people will be living with a long-term condition by 2030. He emphasised that prevention, like technology, is mission critical to making the health and social care system sustainable. In addition, the integration of the NHS, social care and wider services in local government is vital to getting this right. He announced that part of this will be addressed in the green paper on social care that will be published in the autumn. He also highlighted his ambition to invest more in primary care and community pharmacies so people do not need to go to hospital, and to empower people to keep themselves healthier at home. "One NHS and social care system, working together to improve patient safety and outcomes, in a spirit of collaboration, not competition, towards a common goal."

There are still many unanswered questions, and of course, the devil is in the detail. Many commentators have welcomed the emphasis on the three above priorities, while noting that they are not new and questioning how the barriers that have historically undermined progress will be tackled this time round. Moreover, many of our recent research reports have focused on the role of technology enabled care, whether our, Vital Signs: How to deliver better healthcare across Europe report, Time to Care: Securing a future for the hospital workforce in the UK, or our latest report, Medtech and the Internet of Medical Things: How connected medical devices are transforming health care. They all highlight a number of the barriers to the adoption of technology at scale and illustrate by way of good practice case studies how some organisations are overcoming these barriers. We will therefore monitor with interest how the above policy agenda supports our thinking on these issues.

Footnotes

1 https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/matt-hancock-my-priorities-for-the-health-and-social-care-system

2 https://www.scan4safety.nhs.uk/

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions