The Long-term Sustainability of the NHS and Adult Social Care Contents

Summary of conclusions and recommendations

Service Transformation

Most people agree that key aspects of the service delivery model for the NHS need to change. There is also broad agreement on how this should happen. The general direction of NHS England’s Five Year Forward View commands widespread support and, if fully realised, will place the NHS on a far more sustainable footing, especially if greater public support can be achieved. (Paragraph 43)

The Five Year Forward View appeared to be the only example of strategic planning for the future of the health service. This is clearly short-sighted. Without a longer-term strategy for service transformation, which goes beyond 2020, any short-term progress achieved through the Five Year Forward View will be put at risk. (Paragraph 44)

Recommendation 1

The Department of Health and NHS England, in partnership with the Department of Communities and Local Government, the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, should agree a medium-term plan that sets out the action required to deliver sustained service transformation at a local level. This plan should cover the period up to at least 2025, be supported by dedicated funds and be implemented following a full public consultation. (Paragraph 45)

We applaud the move towards more place-based commissioning which delivers integrated health and social care services. At this early stage it would be premature to make a judgement about the current effectiveness of Sustainability and Transformation Plans but we doubt the ability of a non-statutory governance structure to secure sustainable change for the medium and longer term. NHS England, with the support of the Department of Health, should ensure that all 44 Sustainability and Transformation Plan areas have robust governance arrangements in place which include all stakeholders, including NHS organisations, local government, the voluntary sector and the public. (Paragraph 58)

We are concerned by the reported lack of engagement with either local authorities or the wider public in the preparation of Sustainability and Transformation Plans. This will deter buy-in at a local level and jeopardise ongoing political support. (Paragraph 59)

The evidence was mixed on the contribution of devolution to the long-term sustainability of health and social care. There are undoubtedly lessons to be learnt from devolution, but the evidence was not clear on how well the model in Greater Manchester could be replicated nationally especially as many, if not most, of the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) are for much smaller populations than that of Greater Manchester. (Paragraph 63)

Recommendation 2

The traditional small business model of general practice is no longer fit for purpose and is inhibiting change. NHS England, with the help of the Department of Health and the profession, should conduct a review to examine alternative models and their contractual implications. The review should assess the merits of engaging more GPs through direct employment which would reflect arrangements elsewhere in the NHS. (Paragraph 76)

Recommendation 3

We acknowledge that over-reliance on the acute hospital inpatient sector is a serious threat to the financial sustainability of health and care services. This sector should be radically reshaped in terms of service provision but changes to the number, size and distribution of secondary care services should always reflect the needs of the local population. Any changes should take place following a broad consultation. (Paragraph 80)

The drive to consolidate specialised services is a necessary part of overall service transformation. However, as with primary care, we were left with no clear picture of how specialised service consolidation will be delivered in the medium and the longer term. (Paragraph 85)

Although recent efforts to promote joined-up health and social care services have delivered mixed results, integrated health and social care with greater emphasis on primary and community services still presents the best model for delivering patient-centred, seamless care. Although there is disagreement on the financial gains to be derived from this integration, the benefits to patients are a clear justification for continuing to pursue this agenda. (Paragraph 94)

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 has created a fragmented system which is frustrating efforts to achieve further integration and the service transformation aims of the Five Year Forward View. (Paragraph 99)

Recommendation 4

NHS England and the Department of Health should launch a public consultation on what legislative modifications could be made to the Health and Social Care Act 2012 which would remove the obstacles to new ways of working, accelerate the desired service transformation and secure better governance and accountability for achieving system-wide integrated services. (Paragraph 100)

Service transformation is dependent on long-term planning, broad consultation, appropriate systems of governance and local accountability. The model of primary care will need to change, secondary care will need to be reshaped and specialised services consolidated further. Importantly, a renewed drive to realise integrated health and social care is desperately needed. However, the statutory framework is frustrating this agenda and in order for real progress to be made the national system is in need of reform to reduce fragmentation and the regulatory burden. (Paragraph 101)

Recommendation 5

With policy now increasingly focused on integrated, place-based care we see no case for the continued existence of two separate national bodies and recommend that NHS England and NHS Improvement should be merged to create a new body with streamlined and simplified regulatory functions. This merged body should include strong representation from local government. (Paragraph 102)


We are concerned by the absence of any comprehensive national long-term strategy to secure the appropriately skilled, well-trained and committed workforce that the health and care system will need over the next 10-15 years. In our view this represents the biggest internal threat to the sustainability of the NHS. Much of the work being carried out to reshape the workforce is fragmented across different bodies with little strategic direction from the Department of Health. Although we recognise that Health Education England has undertaken some work looking at long-term planning for the workforce, this is clearly not enough. Health Education England has been unable to deliver. (Paragraph 119)

Recommendation 6

We recommend that, as a matter of urgency, the Government acknowledges the shortcomings of current workforce planning. Health Education England, both nationally and through the network of local education and training boards, should be substantially strengthened and transformed into a new single, integrated strategic workforce planning body for health and social care. This will enable it to produce and implement a joined-up place-based national strategy for the health and social care workforce, and it should always look 10 years ahead, on a rolling basis. Consideration should be given to its name to better reflect its revised function. (Paragraph 120)

Recommendation 7

Health Education England’s independence should be guaranteed and supported by a protected budget with greater budgetary freedom. It will need enhanced skills and a board that includes representation from all parts of the health and care system. (Paragraph 121)

Recommendation 8

Workforce strategy has been poor with too much reliance on overseas recruitment. The Government should outline its strategy for ensuring that a greater proportion of the health and care workforce comes from the domestic labour market and should report on progress against this target. (Paragraph 122)

Recommendation 9

In the light of the result of the EU referendum, we recommend that the Government takes steps to reassure and retain overseas-trained staff working in the NHS and adult social care who are now understandably concerned about their future. (Paragraph 123)

Recommendation 10

A transformed Health Education England should use its greater budgetary freedom to review current commissioning and funding mechanisms to explore how initial and ongoing education and training might achieve a more multi-professional skill mix among the workforce and be underpinned by a place-based approach. (Paragraph 134)

There has been too great a reluctance by successive governments to address the changing skill mix required to respond to a changing patient population and too little attention paid to workforce planning, education and training, all of which are necessary for delivering efficiency, productivity and overall value for money. (Paragraph 135)

Recommendation 11

Health Education England should take the lead on changing the culture of conservatism which prevails among those who educate and train the health and social care workforce. It should convene a forum of the Royal Colleges, the General Medical Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, higher education institutions, other education providers, social care providers and local government representatives to investigate how medical and social care education and ongoing training courses can be reformed. Many are too lengthy, involve unnecessary repetition and do not meet the needs of a workforce which will have to be more flexible, agile and responsive to changing need. (Paragraph 136)

Recommendation 12

Given the move to a more localised and place-based approach to the provision of health and social care, a more flexible approach to the make-up of the workforce is required. Professional bodies, education providers and regulators should embrace the opportunities for different ways of working made possible by emerging, often non-medical, workforce roles and should not be afraid of challenging the traditional allocation of responsibilities within professions. (Paragraph 137)

There is an indisputable link between a prolonged period of pay restraint, over-burdensome regulation and unnecessary bureaucracy on the one hand and low levels of morale and workforce retention on the other. We recognise the necessity of public sector pay restraint when public expenditure is under considerable pressure. However, by the end of this Parliament, pay will have been constrained for almost a decade. (Paragraph 153)

Recommendation 13

We recommend that the Government commissions a formal independent review with the involvement of the Department of Health, the pay review bodies and health and care employers to review pay policy with a particular regard to its impact on the morale and retention of health and care staff. (Paragraph 154)

Recommendation 14

The current regulatory landscape is not fit for purpose. In the short term, we urge the Government to bring forward legislation in this Parliament to modernise the system of regulation of health and social care professionals and place them under a single legal framework as envisaged by the 2014 draft Law Commission Bill. The Government should also introduce legislation to modernise the system regulators to take account of our recommendation that NHS England and NHS Improvement be merged and to reflect the clear move towards place-based care. (Paragraph 155)

Funding the NHS and adult social care

International evidence shows that a tax-funded, single payer model of paying for healthcare has substantial advantages in terms of universal coverage and overall efficiency. There was no evidence to suggest that alternative systems such as social insurance would deliver a more sustainable health service. Sustainability depends on the level of funding and, crucially, how those funds are used. (Paragraph 169)

Recommendation 15

We strongly recommend that a tax-funded, free-at-the-point-of-use NHS should remain in place as the most appropriate model for delivery of sustainable health services both now and in the future. (Paragraph 170)

Recommendation 16

We received some detailed analysis of how hypothecation might work for the NHS. Given the far-reaching implications of hypothecation for systems and services beyond the remit of our inquiry, we were not well-placed to make a firm conclusion on the issue. We recommend that hypothecation be given further consideration by ministers and policymakers.
(Paragraph 182)

The reduction in health spending as a share of GDP seen over this decade cannot continue beyond 2020 without seriously affecting the quality of and access to care, something which has not been made clear to the public or widely debated. (Paragraph 192)

Recommendation 17

To truly protect the sustainability of the NHS the Government needs to set out plans to increase health funding to match growing and foreseeable financial pressures more realistically. We recommend health spending beyond 2020 should increase at least in line with the growth of GDP and do so in a predictable way in that decade. (Paragraph 193)

The additional funding for social care announced in the 2017 Budget is welcome and means funding for social care will increase by more than 2% a year for the next three years. This is more than the increase for NHS funding. However it is clearly insufficient to make up for many years of underfunding and the rapid rise in pressures on the system. (Paragraph 206)

Recommendation 18

In order to stem the flow of providers leaving adult social care, meet rising need and help alleviate the crisis in NHS hospitals, the Government needs to provide further funding between now and 2020. This funding should be provided nationally as further increases in council tax to fund social care do not allow funding to be aligned with need. Beyond 2020 a key principle of the long-term settlement for social care should be that funding increases reflect changing need and are, as a minimum, aligned with the rate of increase for NHS funding. (Paragraph 207)

Funding over the past 25 years has been too volatile and poorly co-ordinated between health and social care. This has resulted in poor value for money and resources being allocated in ways which are inconsistent with patient priorities and needs. (Paragraph 216)

Recommendation 19

The budgetary responsibility for adult social care at a national level should be transferred to the Department of Health which should be renamed the ‘Department of Health and Care’. This should allow money and resources to be marshalled and used more effectively as part of an integrated approach to health and care. (Paragraph 217)

Recommendation 20

We acknowledge the difficulties with integrating budgets at a local level but this is achievable. The Government should undertake a review and bring forward changes in order to make this happen. (Paragraph 218)

Recommendation 21

Regardless of this further work on integrating budgets, the Government should commit to (1) securing greater consistency in the allocation of funding to health and social care at least in line with growth in GDP and (2) reducing the volatility in the overall levels of funding allocated to health and care in order to better align the funding of both services.
(Paragraph 219)

Recommendation 22

We recommend that the current Government and any successive governments should agree financial settlements for an entire Parliament to improve planning and ensure the effective use of resources. ‘Shadow’ ten year allocations should also be agreed for certain expenditures, such as medical training or significant capital investment programmes that require longer-term planning horizons. (Paragraph 220)

Social care should continue to be underpinned by a means-tested system. Where possible people should be encouraged to take personal responsibility for their own care. We support a funding system that enables those who can afford it to pay for the social care they need but with the costs falling on individuals capped in the manner proposed by the Dilnot Commission. (Paragraph 239)

Recommendation 23

The Government should also implement as quickly as practicable, and no later than the first session of the next Parliament, new mechanisms which will make it easier for people to save and pay for their own care. The Government should, in the development of its forthcoming green paper on the future of social care, give serious consideration to the introduction of an insurance-based scheme which would start in middle age to cover care costs. (Paragraph 240)

Innovation, technology and productivity

There is a worrying absence of a credible strategy to encourage the uptake of innovation and technology at scale across the NHS. It is not clear who is ultimately responsible for driving innovation and ensuring consistency in the assessment and the adoption of new technological approaches. The provision of appropriate training and development of strong leaders to support this agenda within the NHS will be critical to its success. (Paragraph 250)

Recommendation 24

The Government should make it clear that the adoption of innovation and technology, after appropriate appraisal, across the NHS is a priority and it should decide who is ultimately responsible for driving this overall agenda It should also identify the bodies and areas within the NHS which are falling behind in the innovation and technology agenda and make it clear that there will be funding and service delivery consequences for those who repeatedly fail to engage. This could involve relocating services to places that prove to be more technologically innovative. (Paragraph 251)

Recommendation 25

The failure of the project illustrates the inevitable consequences of failing to grapple with important issues relating to personal privacy. NHS Digital and all those responsible for data sharing in the NHS should seek to engage the public effectively in advance of any future large-scale sharing of personal data. Public engagement on data sharing needs to become a priority at a local level for staff in hospitals and the community, and not be left to remote national bodies. (Paragraph 262)

Recommendation 26

The Government should require a newly unified NHS England and NHS Improvement to work with commissioners to achieve greater levels of consistency in NHS efficiency and performance. Greater levels of investment and service responsibility should be given to those who improve the most. (Paragraph 270)

Recommendation 27

The testing and adoption of new health technologies should be formally integrated into medical and non-medical NHS leadership, education and training at all levels. (Paragraph 278)

Recommendation 28

NHS England should develop a system to identify and financially reward organisations and leaders who are instrumental in driving the much needed change in levels of productivity, the uptake of innovation, the effective use of data and the adoption of new technologies. (Paragraph 279)

Public health, prevention and patient responsibility

We welcome the greater prominence that mental health has received in recent years and we are encouraged by the Government’s commitment to a five-year strategy for mental health. Notwithstanding the progress made, there is still a need for sustained and determined action to close the gap between the care received and outcomes achieved by people with mental and physical health issues. Achieving parity of esteem between the two must remain a top priority for service commissioners and regulators. (Paragraph 295)

There is still widespread dissatisfaction with the prevention agenda. We share the views expressed by many of our witnesses of the need to realise the long-awaited ambition to move from an ‘illness’ to a ‘wellness’ service. The NHS must shift the rhetoric to reality and make genuine progress on refocusing the system towards preventative care. (Paragraph 303)

Recommendation 29

We recommend that the Government urgently embarks on a nationwide campaign to highlight the many complications arising from the obesity epidemic, including its links with many chronic diseases. Such a campaign must be a cross-departmental effort, target the entire population and involve those who sell food and drink to the public, especially those whose products are consumed by children. (Paragraph 304)

Recommendation 30

We are of the opinion that a continued failure to both protect and enhance the public health budget is not only short-sighted but counter-productive. Cuts already made could lead to a greater burden of disease and are bound to result in a greater strain on all services. The Government should restore the funds which have been cut in recent years and maintain ring-fenced national and local public health budgets, for at least the next ten years, to allow local authorities to implement sustainable and effective public health measures. (Paragraph 315)

Recommendation 31

The Government should be clear with the public that access to the NHS involves patient responsibilities as well as patient rights. The NHS Constitution should be redrafted with a greater emphasis on these often overlooked individual responsibilities. The Government should relaunch the Constitution as part of a renewed and sustained drive to improve health literacy and educate the public about their common duty to support the sustainability of the health service, with children, young people, schools, colleges, further education institutions and employers forming a major part of this initiative. (Paragraph 320)

Towards a lasting political consensus

We look forward to the publication in the near future of NHS England’s delivery plan for what the NHS will look like for the rest of the Parliament. This will be a positive development in the short term. We are extremely concerned, however, that the Department of Health is failing to plan for the long-term. (Paragraph 325)

Recommendation 32

The historic political failure to take a long-term approach to the provision of health and adult social care has been a major stumbling block to longer-term sustainability. Efforts should be made to encourage cross-party consensus. If this consensus is to be accepted by the public it should emerge as a result of committed cross-party talks and a robust national conversation. The Government should seek to initiate these immediately. (Paragraph 334)

Recommendation 33

We recommend the establishment, before the end of this Parliament, of an independent standing body named the Office for Health and Care Sustainability to assist the Government in safeguarding the long-term sustainability of an integrated health and adult social care system for England. It should play no part in the operation of the system, or make decisions, but should be given the independence to speak freely about issues relating to its remit. It should report directly to Parliament. (Paragraph 344)

Recommendation 34

The new body should be given a clear remit to advise on all matters relating to the long-term sustainability of health and social care. Initially it should focus on three key issues: (1) the monitoring of and publication of authoritative data relating to changing demographic trends, disease profiles and the expected pace of change relating to future service demand; (2) the workforce and skills mix implications of these changes; and (3) the stability of health and adult social care funding allocations relative to that demand, including the alignment between health and adult social care funding. It should continually look 15–20 years ahead. (Paragraph 345)

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