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Lifestyle diseases alone will bankrupt the NHS within a decade - launch of ResPublica Report on the 'Mutual Future of the NHS'

8th May 2014

Think tank ResPublica calls for radical overhaul of the health service towards a more integrated system of care that would deliver savings of £4.5bn

A surge in complex chronic illnesses such as obesity, cancer and dementia, coupled with an ageing population and tightening health budgets, means that the NHS faces a potential funding gap of £19bn per annum within ten years. These are the disturbing findings of the think tank ResPublica’s latest report, Power to the People: The mutual future of our National Health Service.

ResPublica argues that the potential solution to the NHS lies in moving away from the current system that fragments healthcare and towards an integrated system co-ordinated by health mutuals that provides a form of care that caters for the needs of the patient in the round. This would undoubtedly improve health outcomes, drastically reduce A&E admissions and save the NHS at least £4.5bn. This would ensure the NHS remains free at the point of use without the need for additional taxation or charging.

The report recommends that health mutuals, such as Benenden, represent a balanced solution between public and private models and should play a much-needed integrator role to help deliver ‘whole-person care’ and make the necessary efficiencies. The £4.5bn savings would be made by treating more patients in the community, at home and in more specialist settings.

Today, 25 percent of all patients in England have a long-term condition, accounting for 70 percent of total NHS spend, 50 percent of all GP appointments and 64 percent of all hospital outpatient appointments. Established to combat acute diseases like tuberculosis and polio, the NHS is simply not designed to treat those with modern complex conditions.

Phillip Blond, Director, ResPublica said: “Moving away from fragmented and failing public service provision, and towards a system of whole person-care, is the only way to deliver the holistic healthcare patients so desperately need.

“In order to remain free at the point of use, the NHS must begin an integration revolution. To achieve this, and avoid the bureaucracy of state provision and profit-seeking of the private sector, the Government should recognise the decisive role that mutualism can play in modernising the NHS. A mutual NHS is far closer to the original vision of Beveridge, it’s time the NHS came home, it’s time the NHS went mutual.”

Marc Bell, Chief Executive, Benenden Health, said: “This report confirms what we, as a mutual healthcare provider, see every day: the NHS is being crippled by the current epidemic of lifestyle diseases and non-essential procedures. The public pays for and deserves a free national health service, but the harsh reality is that this is only now viable if a complementary healthcare provision is put in place that supports the NHS.

“As ResPublica recognises, mutual healthcare providers such as Benenden Health offer this ideal complementary provision, which would help keep the NHS free at the point of entry. The benefits of the report recommendations are significant – they give the Government the Holy Grail: a truly sustainable national health service that does not cost the Government more or involve taxing the public further.”

The report also calls on the Government to re-cast Monitor (the current regulator for healthcare in England) as the inspector for NHS integration in order to police NHS budgets through Ofsted-like inspections. The think tank also argues the case for the Department of Health (DoH) to scrap its flagship privatisation scheme, Any Qualified Provider, because it undermines NHS integration and hinders the fight against long-term conditions.

Other recommendations from the report include:

The DoH to instigate an independent review of patient engagement;
The introduction of a Right To Holistic Care to enable more personalised care;
Requiring Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to prioritise prime or alliance to promote more collaborative approaches to healthcare.
Read the full report.