Policy hyperactivity unsupported by additional spending will not tackle fundamental problems facing health and care

Nigel Edwards responds to the Secretary of State’s speech at the NHS ConfedExpo conference.

Press release

Published: 15/06/2022

Responding to the Secretary of State’s speech at the NHS ConfedExpo conference, Nuffield Trust Chief Executive Nigel Edwards said:

“This speech is taking place against a backdrop of severe and critical pressures on the NHS and social care. Individually, the ideas and proposals discussed by the Secretary of State make sense: it is hard to argue against a renewed focus on the workforce, better use of digital technologies or efforts to drive down health inequalities. 

“But it’s hard to see how this blizzard of policy initiatives, coupled with a determination not to spend more, will address the fundamental problems wrought by years of underinvestment, woeful failures in workforce planning, and increased healthcare need. The NHS needs more people, not more policies. 

“In fact, there is a danger that meeting these problems with nationally driven policy hyperactivity unsupported by any additional spending will backfire, causing services to spend large amounts of time looking upwards to Whitehall when they need to be tackling the backlog and delivering the best tailored care for patients in their local areas. 

“Meanwhile the national policy initiatives that are needed, such as the hospital building programme and reforms to social care, are failing to deliver the results expected. Getting the right staff in the right place, improving facilities and equipment across the NHS, fixing social care and stabilising general practice should be an absolute priority for this government.”

Notes to editors