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All change

A long-awaited funding settlement for the NHS, a new health secretary, and further delay for the green paper – plus ça change, reflects deputy editor Sarah Williams.

They say a change is as good as a holiday, and, while most will have taken their summer breaks by now, plenty of changes are afoot in health and care to keep things… interesting. 

For one, as differences over the Brexit negotiations sent crucial members of Cabinet packing, Jeremy Hunt, the longest-serving health secretary to date (‘yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,’ as Keats might have put it), has at length departed, sailing over to foreign (secretary) shores.  

Despite delivering a promise for a long-awaited boost to NHS funding (around 3.4% annually) just in time for the health service’s 70th birthday celebrations, Hunt will be long gone by the time this is due to materialise. (Read our analysis on how the new funding could trickle through the system to independent players, here.)  And, with the rather precarious position facing Prime Minister (at the time of writing) Theresa May, the health secretary’s departure may not be the last to threaten the delivery of this pledge. 

Earlier in the summer, Hunt had also promised that the NHS app first announced last September would be delivered by December this year, connecting patients with their medical records, and allowing them to book appointments and access NHS 111 online. His replacement, the MP for West Suffolk and former culture secretary Matt Hancock, is a known advocate of technology (be sure to download the ‘Matt Hancock’ app, while stocks last). So we can reasonably expect more, not less, attention to digital in healthcare going forward. And should the (once again delayed) social care green paper ever emerge, it’s not impossible that investment in technology – if nothing else – will feature in the government’s long-term vision for social care, under Hancock’s stewardship. (See analysis from Westminster, here.)

Despite a very different funding model, Denmark could provide some inspiration in terms of how technology might be used to drive quality and efficiency in care, as I explore here. And, back in this country, new company Pulse UK is setting out to show how prioritising culture in healthcare organisations can transform outcomes – and the bottom line (read here). Meanwhile, with the financials not looking too hot for some of the biggest players in the private hospital market, HealthInvestor UK takes a closer look at the books (read here). 

Finally, boutique dementia care pioneer Laurence Geller talks through his vision for building care cut from the same cloth as luxury hotels, here, and we hear from leading voices in retirement living on the latest challenges and opportunities ahead for the market (read here). 

As our new health secretary gets his feet firmly under the table (and a certain deputy editor does too), we will as ever be watching closely for the changes, transformations, postponements and U-turns ahead.

All food for thought, no doubt, for the expert speakers – across four specialist streams – at our biggest ever HealthInvestor UK Summit, on 8 November in London. 

Posted on: 23/07/2018

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