National Voices' response to the Secretary of State speech on NHS reform - 8 March 2022

Wed, 9 March 2022

National Voices welcomes that the Secretary of State’s speech on NHS reform focuses on user voice personalisation and choice, but questions whether the big issues that need to be resolved are sufficiently addressed.

Charlotte Augst, CEO of National Voices, the coalition of health and care charities in England, says:  

"It is good to see that the Secretary of State doesn’t announce yet more structural change, and instead focuses on the services and choices that will be available to people who need care instead. A strong focus on personalisation and choice, on user voice and on prevention is obviously welcome. But we are not convinced that the measures that have been announced amount to plan that will address the very serious challenges people who need health and care now face. 

On prevention, it is clear to us that the discrepancy in healthy life expectancy will not be tackled through health checks and early diagnostics alone. The conditions that make people ill - insecure work, poverty, lack of good housing or education - need to be addressed, as well as issues such as loneliness and discrimination. 

On choosing appointments, this might help a small number of people, but will do little to tackle the endemic problems with access that are not blighting the whole system, from primary to community and social care, to urgent and specialist services.  

The main problem with the approach taken is that it tries to make change happen without acknowledging that significant extra investment will be needed, into workforce, capital, services and healthy lives.  

The Secretary of State has chosen the right priorities, but we need to see much more ambitious plans of action to realise the vision he sets out. "