This extended analysis was authored by Colette Goldrick, ABPI Director of NHS Engagement, in response to today's (5 April) House of Lords Long-Term Sustainability of the NHS Committee report.
The ABPI welcomes today's House of Lords committee report on the long term sustainability of the NHS. We agree that Government must make it clear that consistent adoption of evidence-based innovation is a priority for the Service. The current lack of a long-term strategy to deliver innovative healthcare sustainably is damaging for patients and damaging for industry. Government must act quickly on the recommendations contained in the report, and should begin by reversing the short-sighted measures on 'affordability' introduced last week. These measures introduced the prospect of a three-year delay for proven, cost-effective treatments, meaning thousands of patients will wait longer for medicines that stand to benefit the most. Ultimately this lack of coherent policy says to the rest of the world that for uptake of healthcare innovation, the UK is prepared to a back seat.
We share the Committee's concerns about the lack of long-term planning by the Department of Health and endorse the recommendation to create an Office for Health and Care Sustainability with a mandate to align healthcare funding and demand in the long term. Only by doing so will the NHS escape the 'boom and bust' funding cycle referred to in the report which has been so damaging to consistent improvement in patient outcomes and which is now threatening the introduction of new medicines from our industry.
The report rightly condemns unacceptable levels of variation in adoption of innovation and patient outcomes across the NHS, and the fact that and there is no plan in place to bring about greater consistency in levels of performance. Implementation of the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP) represents an opportunity to address this critical issue, and we offer industry's support to STP leadership teams in doing so. We agree that data sharing is essential for continued medical research and that without access to health information, the advancement of medical research will be hampered, as will the NHS's future sustainability. We are keen to work with stakeholders regionally and nationally to support this agenda.
As the NHS approaches its 70th birthday, we endorse the report's conclusion that a single payer model for healthcare has substantial advantages in terms of universal coverage and overall efficiency. However, the model must be adequately funded if these advantages are to be sustained, and a much broader conversation is necessary to ensure that this happens. The planned reduction in health spending as a share of GDP from 7.4% in 2015 to 6.8% in 2020 cannot continue without seriously affecting the quality of and access to care and to innovation. Health spending beyond 2020 should increase predictably in line with the growth of GDP, and the new Office for Health and Care Sustainability advocated in the report should set this as its first priority.
To view a statement from ABPI Chief Executive, Mike Thompson, in response to the report, click here.