What does the recent Health White Paper mean for us?

 

By Lee Ronan, Commercial Director, CSL

 

With the recent publication of the 80 page Health White Paper, titled “Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all", I thought it would be useful to pull out some of the highlights and example what impact they will have on us in the healthcare industry.

Joined up Healthcare

At the heart of the changes being taken forward by the NHS and its partners, and at the heart of the legislative proposals, is the goal of joined up care for everyone in England. Different professions, organisations, services and sectors will work with common purpose and in partnership. This is likely to mean Pharma engaging with new customers groups to expedite improvement. As an industry we will have to be agile to respond to this new landscape.

 

Prevention is better than treatment

Certainly not a new idea, but I think Covid has taught us that we need to find a way of keeping the nation healthier in general and reducing the need on the NHS. Did you know, one in three patients admitted to hospital as an emergency has five or more health conditions, up from one in ten a decade ago. The current challenges we face of capacity, finances, etc are only going to get worse in the next few decades. This is something Pharma needs to find a way of assisting with if it can.

 

ICS changes

Legislation will be passed ensuring every part of England will be covered by an ICS. You could say this was already underway with the current ICS’s and those planned for April 2021 covering the majority of England. The remaining areas will have to get a move on. If only it was that simple though. The white paper also states ICS’s should be coterminous with local authorities. This in effect means some of the existing ICS’s need to change. For example, both Frimley ICS and ICS’s covering parts of Essex will need to restructure based on the current plan.

 

End of the line for CCG’s as we know them?

In 1 word, Yes. Although I am sure many of those involved in leading the CCG’s will find a new role in the ICS organisations.

 

Technology

The paper sets out an ambition, “establishing technology as a better platform to support staff and patient care.” There isn’t much substance to back this up, but there is potentially one nugget of information. Section 5.105 talks about the need for high quality data, and how technology can help facilitate the collection of such data. Knowing how much we all love data, this sounds really promising.  Interesting though, no mention of AI at all in the paper, perhaps an opportunity missed?

 

Accountability

The word accountability is used 45 times in the paper; whether it is making the secretary of state more accountable to parliament all the way down to making ICS’s accountable for local health economies and outcomes. Transferring some powers from CCG’s to ICS’s is also being done to increase accountability (so they say).

 

Closing thoughts

To Summarise, for those of us that have been in the industry a while we know the only constant is change: PCG, DHA, PCT, SHA, FT, HB, CCG, LAT, CSU, STP, PCN, ICS, the list of acronym based NHS organisations goes on. It certainly feels like in the years ahead ICS and PCN will be the 2 key acronyms for us.

Change presents both opportunity and risk, and we look forward to helping our clients navigate these interesting times.