What will the NHS look like in 10 years time?
14 February 2013
By Janet Dawson and Dr Tim Wilson
The NHS has had its fair share of headlines over the past twelve months. High profile debates over quality, reform, restructuring and funding make it hard to imagine a day when change won’t be constant in the NHS. For healthcare professionals in the thick of it, it can be hard to look beyond next year, let alone ten years time. But look ahead we must.
In 2023 the NHS will be 75 years old. Predicting the future is always difficult, but it is important that we prepare for it. If we make the assumption that our NHS in 2023 will still be existing as a tax-funded system that provides healthcare free at the point of delivery, what will have changed by 2023? Will the NHS still provide a comprehensive service? What role will technology play? What will the provider landscape look like? What role will commissioning have? Will private providers bring innovation? Will transparency shake things up?
There are some things we can say with reasonable confidence about 2023. More of us will be living longer, we shall probably be fatter and we will have had ten years of slow economic growth with knock on pressures on all public services, including health. This means that if we don’t take radical action now, we are facing a health service where demand greatly outstrips supply. It’s feasible that co-payments will feature large, with a high probability of an alternative health system for those that can afford it.
So, if members of the public were asked about the future NHS, what might they say? We ran a Citizen's Jury in 2012 and they told us clearly how important the NHS was to them. They wanted the reassurance that it was a truly ‘national’ health service providing consistent quality of care no matter who you are or where you live. Personal empowerment was also important - ‘the more information people have, the less healthcare they use’ -as was investment in preventive healthcare. Seamless integration of services covering an individual’s ‘end-to-end’ care was also a critical component to ‘their’ NHS.
Over the next few months we shall be working with others to debate what the NHS could and should look like in ten years’ time. By imagining the NHS at 75, we – providers, regulators, commissioners and patients - can start to take action to prepare for and shape our future health service.
What do you imagine the NHS will look like at 75? Send your comments via email to NHS75@uk.pwc.com or tweet #NHS75
To read more about the NHS@75 programme go to www.pwc.co.uk/nhs75
A version of this blog first appeared in the HSJ.
Janet Dawson: Email | Tel: 020 721 35244
Dr Tim Wilson : Email | Tel: 020 721 32147