Local and national NHS leaders, as well as politicians, must be honest about the scale of financial challenges ahead and engage the public and health care staff about how they propose to deliver quality while reducing costs, says a report published by The King’s Fund.
Windmill 2009: NHS response to the financial storm, considers how the NHS can best weather the approaching perfect storm of resource constraint, rising costs and increasing demand fuelled by an ageing population and increasing patient expectations.
Report authors call for politicians to be open about the implications of the economic downturn for health spending. And for government and regional health bosses to resist reverting to command and control but instead encourage local commissioners to take a stronger leadership role across the whole of their local health care community in developing a response to budget constraints. Authors also urge NHS managers to involve staff more in developing solutions for worst-case scenarios by using their knowledge of local circumstances to make decisions.
Dr Anna Dixon says, “The Windmill simulation provided a fascinating insight into how the NHS is likely to respond to a serious downturn in the levels of funding in the near future. It is clear that the NHS needs to start planning now and engaging staff and local people as it faces some difficult choices ahead. It is vital that politicians are honest about the level of funding available and support local leaders in making these tough decisions.”