This pandemic has highlighted the need and opportunity for a radical rethink of health and social care. The NHS is 75 years old but the demands placed upon it are way beyond anything foreseen at its creation . It is not integrated with social care which is fragmented and under resourced. The demands for resources are almost infinite : new , and often expensive, treatments and an ageing population mean that it is almost impossible to meet demand and simply seeking to resource the services by way of taxation alone will never be adequate to meet our needs and our expectations. The pandemic has made this situation worse with the dramatic increase in waiting lists which will take months if not years to clear. Unfortunately the NHS is a highly politicised topic and its almost cult status means that serious reform is rarely discussed. Also as happened in the early days of the pandemic , social care tends to get forgotten behind the NHS when they should be considered together . Due to the lack of resource the NHS has become an efficient delivery service , although it has some significant bureaucratic inefficiencies . However it is not resilient as shown by the lack of spare capacity during this pandemic. The pandemic has forced the NHS to adapt and change at a much faster rate in certain areas and this is a positive sign for the future.
The key challenge going forward is to depoliticise the subject and have an open debate so as to be able to agree on the redesign necessary to create a health and social care system which is sustainable and fit for the 21st century.
Our model has not been adopted by any other developed nation….it needs fundamental review.
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