Richard Smith: Chair of NHS England wants a £50 billion NHS bond, culture change, a good relationship with the private sector, and innovation

Things are getting desperate. When you cannot raise the money from the treasury, you try to raise it from the citizens in a “bond”. I and most others would rather pay for private health care than trust the government too use my bond money any better than they have used money in the past. It is the system and the fundamental assumptions which need to change. ? Everything for everyone for ever ?

Richard Smith: Chair of NHS England wants a £50 billion NHS bond, culture change, a good relationship with the private sector, and innovation June 6th BMJ Opinion

Lord Prior, the chair of NHS England, is tall and thin, has a playful smile most of the time, and answers questions with a directness unusual in the higher echelons of the NHS. A barrister, he has worked in finance and industry, been a member of parliament, and chaired multiple NHS bodies. He spoke earlier this week at a meeting of the Cambridge Health Network, which brings together people from the NHS, private sector, charities, and academia. Usually its meetings are held according to the Chatham House Rule, meaning that people can be quoted only with consent, but Prior’s meeting was open.

Prior began by emphasising the deep significance of the NHS to the British. He’d been listening on the radio to the American ambassador discussing access for American companies to the NHS and had realised that the ambassador just didn’t understand the cultural importance of the NHS……

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….In short, the NHS is, said Prior, “capital starved.” More investment is needed, particularly in information technology. Government, he pointed out, can borrow money at around 2% interest, whereas trusts are paying 10-12% of private finance initiatives, totalling almost £1.5 billion annually. The case for a government bond for the NHS, concluded Prior is “almost unarguable.”

Several people asked whether the NHS was becoming more anti-private sector. Prior said that it would be “very sad” if that was the case as new ways of doing things often come from the private sector. He said that as far as he was concerned the private sector is “part of the system” not outside the system.

Somebody in the audience said that selling innovative technology into the NHS was difficult because NHS organisations had no money, had a risk-averse culture, and needed to see an immediate financial return. Prior said that he hoped that the creation of NHSX [the new joint organisation for digital, data and technology] would lead to a “gear change.” “You,” he said to the questioner, “are crucial.” Innovation is good for the NHS and for the British economy. Asked at the end what one thing he would like to see if he had a magic wand Prior concluded “innovation.”

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, Interviews or replies, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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