The NHS is facing huge challenges. The great improvements in life expectancy in recent decades present us with fundamental questions about the way we organise public services. An estimated one in four people live with a long-term condition, and loneliness and social isolation are increasingly common problems for older people. Public service delivery models have yet to adapt to the pressing need for care and support options beyond institutional settings and traditional approaches.
Part of the answer must be to make better use of community resources and get greater levels of co-production in services. This will pave the way for the design of a greater range of options, offering choice, flexibility and the chance to respond to complex needs in a more sophisticated and patient-centred way.
1. Set up a ‘Crick Institute’ for people powered health to research and promote the social determinants of health: patient self-management and peer support, volunteering, family involvement and environmental and behavioural influences.
2. Launch ‘People for Health’ - a national volunteering programme for the NHS - creating a national body of volunteers empowered to make real impact and offering rewarding and varied roles and structured skills development opportunities.
3. Launch a Million Peer Initiative to kick-start a pledge to give everyone with a long-term health condition access to peer support.
4. Create a Digital Health Innovation Fund to find new technologies that support carers and the cared for, matching people looking for support with those willing to provide it.
5. Establish a fund to help patient associations collect and harness patients’ insights and experiences to build up ‘collective intelligence’ that can help improve care.