Feature

Commentary: “The political response has been dismal”

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j5 (Published 03 January 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j5
Read all the articles in this series on the NHS in 2017
  1. Sarah Wollaston, chair, House of Commons health select committee
  1. sarah.wollaston.mp{at}parliament.uk

The current pressures in the NHS can be traced back to 2009 and what became known as the Nicholson challenge. In the aftermath of the economic crash this ushered in an unprecedented period of efficiency savings against a headwind of rapidly rising demand and costs. The incoming coalition government then imposed a disruptive and demoralising reorganisation that distracted from the key challenges. Rather than seizing the opportunity to integrate health and social care and to design a sustainable long term financial settlement, the Health and Social Care Act 2012 led to greater fragmentation at a time when our demographic changes demanded a different approach.

In the decade to 2015, the number of people living to age 85 and beyond increased by 31%.1 That is a cause for celebration, but there has been a striking failure to plan for what this means for health and social care. The same is true for the rapidly rising cost of preventable conditions and expensive new drugs and technologies.

Over the last parliament, funding for the NHS increased annually by an average of just 1.1%, …

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