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 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.

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About Julia Manning

Julia Manning is a social entrepreneur, writer, campaigner and commentator. She is based in London and is the founder and Chief Executive of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal. Through networking, technology, research, relationships and campaigning 2020health has influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. Julia studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991. Her career has included being a visiting lecturer at City University, a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital, working with south London Primary Care Trusts and as a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. She specialised in diabetes (University of Warwick Certificate in Diabetic Care) and founded Julia Manning Eyecare in 2004, a home and prison visiting practice for people with mental and physical disabilities using the latest digital technology, which she sold to Healthcall (now part of Specsavers) in 2009. Experiences of working in the NHS, contributing to policy development, raising two children in the inner-city and standing in the General Election in Bristol in 2005 led to Julia forming 2020health at the end of 2006. Julia is a regular guest on TV and radio shows such as BBC News, ITV’s Daybreak/ GMB, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions, BBC Radio, LBC and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week. She is mum to a rugby-mad son, a daughter passionate about Shakespeare, and wife of a comprehensive school assistant head-teacher. She loves gardening, ballet, Zimbabwe, her Westies Skye and Angus, is an honorary research associate at UCL and a Fellow of the RSA.
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