Nuffield Trust responds to Simon Stevens’ speech to NHS Confederation conference

Nigel Edwards, Chief Executive, Nuffield Trust, comments on Simon Stevens’ speech to the NHS Confederation.

Press release

Published: 04/06/2014

Commenting on Simon Stevens’ speech to the NHS Confederation, Nuffield Trust Chief Executive Nigel Edwards said:

“In his speech, Simon Stevens sketches out a radical reimagining of the ways in which GPs, social and community care providers, and hospitals work together. His vision is to move away from the historical delineations that have defined different health and care providers for the past 65 years, driven – crucially – by leaders, practitioners and patients themselves.

“This is a refreshing departure from the pre-existing ways of working. After years of top down rhetoric about the ‘N’ in the NHS, Mr Stevens rightly recognises that in a country as large and diverse as England, it is not possible to adopt a single approach or plan. His vision could yield real benefits for the quality and efficiency of care.

This is a refreshing departure from the pre-existing ways of working

“Mr Stevens’ call for a systematic approach to evaluating new models of care is particularly welcome in a system which relies too heavily on small, fragmented and one-off pilots.

“But there will be two real tests for Simon Stevens’ approach. First, will NHS leaders, who have grown used to a system in which National Plans are issued from on-high, be able to step up to the plate and lose the habit of following a centrally imposed blueprint?

“Second, can his relaxed approach to local variation in health and social care be sustained in a public debate, which is impatient for results and where there is frequent concern about the ‘postcode lottery’ in the run up to the election?

“As Mr Stevens himself acknowledges, it’s time to focus on solutions rather than describing the problem. His solutions will challenge many of the fundamental assumptions that people, both within and outside the NHS, have about how health care is delivered. Some may find it hard to adapt to this."