I wish to update the House on my vision on health reform, Our Health System: the Government's reform agenda. In today’s address, I outlined our intention to take bold action on healthcare reform, setting out our agenda for transforming the healthcare system. This agenda addresses the enduring issues facing the system, and recognises the challenges and opportunities arising from the pandemic - building on our recent Elective Recovery Plan and the publication of the Integration White Paper.
The NHS has many strengths and is rightly regarded as a national treasure. However, it faces long-term challenges, including an ageing population and people increasingly living with multiple long-term conditions. All of these have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has added extra pressure on the system, highlighted existing issues, and created new challenges.
At this critical moment, we must now seize the opportunity to put our healthcare system on a more sustainable path for the future whilst meeting the immediate recovery challenge we face as we emerge from the pandemic.
The Health and Care Bill will, subject to Parliament, create the structures for the future, but we need to consider how we will work within those structures. I recognise waiting time recovery is a significant challenge. However, this isn’t a reason to back away from those changes, but to double down and ensure we deliver the full benefits.
In the face of growing demand, we will focus on taking a more prevention-centred approach to healthcare, where the emphasis is on preventing needs from arising in the first place (prevention), putting people in control of their own care (personalisation), and driving up the quality of care by working smarter (performance).
As we do this, we must build on existing progress and work with the brilliant individuals and teams in our healthcare system who are already making change happen on a daily basis - which will include continuing to invest in the workforce.
We will build on the announcements made during my speech and set out wider government policy in this area in due course.