NHS Confederation chief executive Rob Webster has outlined a package of commitments which he wants politicians of all parties to sign up to before the 2015 general election.
The package includes:
- A 10 year funding settlement;
- The creation of a “transition fund” to pay for service change; and
- Parity of esteem between physical and mental health.
Kicking off the 2014 NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool, Mr Webster said the service found itself on a “burning platform”.
Unless radical change took place the NHS would experience “longer waits, rationing, failing organisations, a loss of public support, decline and decay”, he said.
Mr Webster said that heading into the 2015 general election politicians needed to be frank with the public about this need for change, and that the NHS Confederation was developing a set of “specific asks” in time for the party conferences in the autumn.
He said the NHS Confederation would ask for politicians to sign up to a 10-year funding settlement – the “decade deal”. This would involve real terms growth of the NHS budget over the decade “to take money off the table and allow local leaders the room to plan for the future”.
His second ask was for a £2bn annual “transition pot” to meet the short-term cost of developing “new, sustainable models of integrated care”.
Mr Webster said it was “vital… upfront investment is made to support hospitals and ensure the safe transfer to new models of care”.
His third request was for parity of mental and physical health care. He specifically called for a commitment to extending the rights of mental health patients to access services “within a specified timeframe” and from a provider of their choice, and a commitment to fund over the next parliament the Time to Change campaign to end mental health stigma.
Mr Webster said the NHS Confederation would ask national arm’s length bodies for payment system reform and an acceleration of co-commissioning between NHS England and clinical commissioning groups. He also said there needed to be an “honest debate” about the future of trusts which would not achieve foundation trust status.
He ended his speech by saying NHS staff would require “guts, resilience and determination” over the next few years, but said the service could take hope from how its employees had already steered the NHS through austerity.