Simon Stevens says some sensible stuff

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
  • 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.

About Julia Manning

Julia is a social pioneer, writer and campaigner. She studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991, later specialising in visual impairment and diabetes. During her career in optometry, she lectured at City University, was a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital and worked with Primary Care Trusts. She ran a domiciliary practice across south London and was a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. Julia formed 20/20Health in 2006. Becoming an expert in digital health solutions, she led on the NHS–USA Veterans’ Health Digital Health Exchange Programme and was co-founder of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Her research interests are now in harnessing digital to improve personal health, and she is a PhD candidate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at UCL. She is also dedicated to creating a sustainable Whole School Wellbeing Community model for schools that builds relationships, discovers assets and develops life skills. She is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Digital Health Council. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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