It was refreshing to listen to Simon Stevens, NHS England CEO, yesterday in front of the Health Select Committee. He didn’t have pat answers to all the questions posed to him by MPs, but even the lack of obfuscation was a pleasant change. It showed that he is a thinker and not automatically accepting ‘received wisdom’ such as mergers and closures.
He made some significant comments that we were pleased to hear, not least because they reflect some of the thinking that is contained in our ‘Going with the Flow’ report which is published tomorrow and featured in ITV’s Tonight programme, Thursday 7.30pm. His comments included:
- There needed to be a review of what the NHS can do – this will take place over the next 180 days and consider with other organisations what action needs to be taken to put the NHS on a sustainable footing
- The closure of smaller hospitals is not a given, and we could ‘get creative’ about sustaining them
- No time limit is being given to the re-re-roll out of care.data
- A recognition of the importance of mental health
- The need to review specialised commissioning, and what is actually ‘specialised’
- He will be pragmatic about competition – and there is no one-size-fits-all solution
He wouldn’t really get into Charlotte Leslie MP’s question about the need for political consensus on the NHS, which maybe isn’t surprising for a seasoned adviser, but she is right. The focus has to be on realistic solutions for a sustainable health service and party political bickering jeopardises this. We hope that behind the scenes, Simon will be working for that consensus.