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'Substantial changes' needed to sustain NHS

Substantial changes will be needed if the NHS is to be improved and sustained over the next five years.Chief executive of NHS England Simon Stevens said there would have to be more financial support, changes to the ways in which services are provided and more responsibility for personal health to ensure improvements continue to be made.An extra £8 million of investment could be needed over the next five years, as a new report called The Forward View revealed the organisation could face an annual £30 billion shortfall during the next parliament.Under the proposed changes, GPs could be allowed to offer hospital facilities in collaboration with nurses, other community health services, hospital specialists and perhaps mental health and social care.A greater emphasis will need to be placed on prevention and tackling "the root causes of ill-health", the report argues, calling for tough action on obesity, alcohol and other major health risks.At the same time, patients should be given more control over their own care, it states. This could include the option of combining health and social care, and new support for carers and volunteers.Mr Stevens stressed that England is too big for a one-size-fits all plan, but too much diversity would also be counterproductive. Instead, a small number of radical new care delivery options should be supported by the NHS' national leadership, with local flexibility permitted in the way payment rules, regulatory requirements and other mechanisms are managed.David Bennett, chief executive of Monitor, said: "The Forward View sets out our vision of an NHS which can deliver better care and a better experience for patients, and is able to do more of this for however much money we can give it, and is therefore sustainable."He added that it would be possible to achieve this as long as funding reflects population growth and adequate investments are made to boost productivity. 

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