The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow penned a joint letter to Theresa May after her March announcement that the UK Government will come forward with a long-term plan for a multi-year funding settlement for the NHS.
The Colleges, who collectively represent over 50,000 medical professionals across the UK, want the Prime Minister to stick to her commitment to include NHS leaders, clinicians and other health experts in developing a long-term funding plan. They have called on the UK Government to set up a working group involving the Royal Colleges, healthcare practitioners, patients, the public, and politicians alike. This group would be briefed to find solutions to alleviate the pressures faced across the NHS, and would be consulted on any multi-year funding settlement for the NHS.
The organisations have also called on the Prime Minister to clarify whether she has investigated models which encourage genuine dialogue and the sharing of best practice between the UK Government, the devolved Governments and those delivering care to create an environment that supports all of those working within the NHS. It is important to enable health systems in the four nations of the UK to learn from one another by sharing best practice and engaging partners.
Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, last week revealed his top priorities for the forthcoming “long term plan” for the NHS, telling the Health Service Journal that it will represent one of the “big moments in NHS history”.
Professor David Galloway, President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow said:
“Developing a long-term spending plan for the NHS in England would be a welcome move, but the real value of such a process could be developing these plans in a collaborative way with stakeholders from across the health service. Our members have a wealth of unrivalled clinical and organisational experience within the NHS, and so it would add great value to this process if this could be brought to bear on the future planning process.
“It’s only by working with clinicians and health experts that we can ensure that we have a fair funding package for the NHS, which addresses rising demand in the service. It’s in everyone’s interests that we get this process right.”
Commenting, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Professor Derek Bell OBE, said:
“It’s encouraging that Theresa May has publicly committed her Government to implementing a multi-year funding settlement for the NHS. This would help to address the problems associated with annual top-ups of the NHS budget and perhaps even depoliticise the NHS to some extent – something which we have called for in our Future for the NHS in Scotland document which we published with the Good Governance Institute.
“However, this cannot be accomplished without the knowledge and expertise of clinicians, health experts, and those leading the NHS. That is why we have proposed a working group, so that the Royal Colleges and others can feed into discussions about how we develop a sustainable, long term funding plan, and address the pressures that the NHS is currently experiencing.
“Our Fellows and Members are vastly experienced in developing healthcare solutions, and I would urge the Prime Minister to draw on their knowledge and expertise. It is vital that we create a culture where clinicians have the time to care, time to train, and time to research.
“Whilst we acknowledge the funding challenges that the NHS faces, we believe that by rethinking the approach to focus on long-term and sustainable solutions, we can achieve a world-class workforce delivering the best possible patient care safely.”
President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Professor Michael Lavelle-Jones said:
“It is evident to us that multi-year funding is essential to ensure that the NHS can make longer term plans to address the current pressures it is experiencing, rather than relying on short term initiatives and funding top ups. Whilst we welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement, we acknowledge that longer term planning will require input from a range of experts working within and alongside the NHS.
“RCSEd, along with RCPSG and RCPE, is keen to offer the expertise of our Fellows and Members who are working within the NHS on a daily basis and who fully understand the challenges being faced on the frontline.”
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP Prime Minister
10 Downing Street London
14 May 2018
Direct dial: 0131 247 3638
Multi-year funding settlement for the NHS
We write as Presidents of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow on behalf of our Fellows and Members throughout the UK. Together we represent over 50,000 medical professionals working in all parts of the UK and across the world. A significant proportion of our membership works in the NHS in England, and they will be particularly interested in your recent comments at the Liaison Committee meeting on 27 March, regarding a multi-year funding settlement for the NHS.
We note your comment, in particular, that in advance of next year’s spending review, the Government will come forward with a long-term plan to be developed in conjunction with leaders of the NHS, clinicians and health experts. As we understand it, the Government will provide a multi-year funding settlement in support of the plan, consistent with its fiscal rules and balanced approach, but ensuring that the NHS can cope with the rising demand ahead of the Spending Review. We would be grateful if you could provide an outline of this plan, as well as information about how the Government proposes to involve leaders within the NHS, clinicians and health experts.
In that regard, we would like to take this opportunity to repeat the call in our letter to you dated 31 January 2017, for the UK Government to set up a working group involving the Royal Colleges, healthcare practitioners, patients, the public, and politicians alike. This group would be briefed to find solutions to alleviate the pressures faced across the NHS, and would be consulted on any multi-year funding settlement for the NHS.
We also note your comment that there are serious cost and demand pressures on the NHS, in part caused by significant areas of new demand, such as mental health services, and that those in turn put pressure on the workforce. We, and those who we represent, are fully aware of these pressures and the impact that they are having on patient care, workforce morale and the time that clinicians have to care, to train, and to research. We would be grateful if the Government outlined what assessment it has made of these new demands, and would welcome dialogue with you and your officials about the possible ways to ease such pressures.
Finally, we recognise that you have recently placed emphasis on spreading the excellence that we see in some parts of the NHS across the whole of the organisation. In that regard, we would be grateful to know whether the Government has considered existing models as a guide, and if so, which models? The pressures on unscheduled care across the UK are indeed significant, and while health systems in the four nations are increasingly divergent, all would benefit from an information sharing programme. We would like to see a genuine dialogue and sharing of best practice between the UK Government, the devolved Governments and those delivering care to create an environment that supports all those working within the NHS, and improves the care delivered to patients across the UK.
We look forward to your response, which we shall share with our Fellows and Members. Yours sincerely,
Professor Derek Bell President, RCPE
Professor David Galloway President, RCPSG
Professor Michael Lavelle-Jones President, RCSEd