Hospitals are more than bricks and mortar: they are a part of the local community, delivering expert care far beyond hospital walls. Everyone should be supported to be well, and have access to high-quality care when they are ill. Future hospital: More than a building sets out how government and politicians can make this vision a reality.
We call on government and politicians to:
1. Remove the financial and structural barriers to joined-up care for patients
It should be easier for hospitals, GPs and social care teams to work together than separately. Financial incentives must help, not hinder, patient care. Shared outcomes should be the norm.
Fines that target one part of the system – such as penalties when patients are readmitted to hospital – should be removed. Quality must always be valued over competition. There should be an urgent review of the barriers to teams working together, including the role of large-scale tendering of health services in England.
2. Invest now to deliver good care in the future
Our hospitals are under-resourced and under pressure. A crisis in care can only be avoided by a significant increase in health funding. Healthcare costs are rising, and improved efficiency and reconfiguration will not deliver the savings we need to balance the books. Investing now will help us save in the long term. Transition funding should be set up to support hospitals and care partners as they transform the way they deliver care. To provide excellent care for patients in the future, government must invest in medical education and support research. Training the next generation of doctors must be part of all health service planning and delivery.
3. Prioritise what works in the NHS and improve what doesn’t
There must be no ‘big bang’ change to national NHS structures. Government must focus on long-term change that delivers joined-up care for patients. A ‘10-year vision’ should set the tone for all spending and policy decisions. Difficult decisions need to be made about the design of services. Change should be patient centred and clinicians must be listened to and allowed to lead. Evidence should drive policymaking. National support for clinical leadership and quality improvement schemes will support this. Politicians must promote informed public debate on local health services.
4. Promote public health through evidence-based legislation
Government must support local prevention and recovery services combined with national leadership on public health, social disadvantage and inequality. National levers – like legislation – should be used where there is evidence to support their use, such as: for smoking, the introduction of standardised packaging; for excessive alcohol consumption, the introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol of 50p per unit; and for obesity, taxes on sugary soft drinks.
5. Adopt the Future Hospital model as a template for service redesign
Government and politicians should support the development of the Future Hospital model, nationally and in constituencies. The Future Hospital model should be the template for hospital service redesign. Barriers to accessing early expert care must be removed. Specialist medical care should reach from wards into the community. Swift access to expert diagnosis and treatment improves outcomes for patients and can result in long-term savings. Supporting patients to recover and manage their conditions must be a priority in all policies.