The Times Health Commission has published its report on the state of health and social care in Britain today, which includes a ten point plan of recommendations.
Commenting on its publication and ten point plan, RCP president Dr Sarah Clarke said:
“At a time when the NHS faces significant demands, we welcome the Times Health Commission’s report. Its ten point plan places an important focus on increasing and supporting the medical workforce, fostering an environment where existing staff can flourish, and taking an important preventative approach to tackling health inequalities and ill health. We also welcome the inclusion of social care within the report’s recommendations for reform - social care must be staffed and funded as an equal partner to the NHS to deliver optimal care for patients.”
- The NHS Long-Term Workforce Plan published last year was a key milestone in the journey to getting our NHS back on sure footing. The RCP strongly supports the commission’s recommendation that the NHS workforce strategy must be updated and independently verified every two years, and would add that this must be underpinned by the necessary funding for successful delivery. Robust workforce planning is important to take account of changing demands of our population and provide the care that patients deserve.
- While recruiting new staff to meet these demands is key, it must come alongside measures to retain the staff we have by creating an environment where they can be their best. The RCP supports the commission’s recommendation that there be a zero-tolerance approach to bullying, harassment, assaults and racism, that staff at all levels are offered professional development and training to help them continue to develop, and that time is purposefully set aside in job plans for research opportunities which are appropriately incentivised to bolster participation.
- The report also correctly identifies the vast existing differences in healthy life expectancy which continue to grow. Everything from the quality of our air, the food we have available, to access to transport and green spaces, and our living conditions, has a direct impact on our health. Put simply, our health should not be determined by our postcode. The RCP supports the commission’s call for a commitment to increase healthy life expectancy by five years and reduce health inequalities through a Healthy Lives Committee. We must see a committed collaborative approach to reduce the social determinants which give rise to health inequalities. There needs to be a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities, which pulls at every policy lever available and is underpinned by funding.
- The RCP also welcomes the commission’s recommendation for a preventative approach to tackling obesity. Obesity costs the NHS a significant amount each year and is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer. We are pleased to see calls for implementing a ban on junk food advertising and reducing cartoons on packaging are recommended in the report.