NewsExperts to Declare National Health and Care Emergency

Experts to Declare National Health and Care Emergency


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In the wake of recent elections, experts from The BMJ Commission on the Future of the NHS have advocated for the newly formed government to declare a national health and care emergency. The commission’s first report underscores the need for a collective effort across society to enhance health, care, and overall wellbeing.

Suggesting a comprehensive relaunch of the NHS with a renewed long-term vision and plan, the experts express concern over the current challenges faced by the NHS, emphasizing the potential erosion of its core principle of providing healthcare free to all at the point of use.

Kamran Abbasi, The BMJ’s Editor-in-Chief, highlights the embattled state of the NHS and asserts that its foundational principles are currently under threat. However, the commission believes in the possibility of maintaining high-quality care for all, irrespective of financial capabilities, through general taxation.

The BMJ Commission, featuring prominent figures in medicine and healthcare, aims to identify key challenges, set priorities, and make recommendations to ensure the NHS’s vision is actualized.

In the inaugural paper of the series, the relevance of the NHS’s founding principles is examined, with recommendations for crucial changes in the scope, organization, and governance of the service. Led by Lord Nigel Crisp, the authors assert that the NHS’s founding principles remain pertinent today and should be reaffirmed by the new government.

The report advocates for long-term thinking and consistent policies, proposing the establishment of an independent Office for NHS Policy and Budgetary Responsibility. This office would hold the government accountable for delivering NHS plans and policies.

Other recommendations include formulating a cross-government and cross-sector health, care, and wellbeing strategy, enhancing connections between patients, the public, and community groups with the NHS at the local level, and prioritizing the immediate addressing of inequalities in access and outcomes, particularly focusing on disadvantage and racism experienced by ethnic groups as both patients and NHS staff.

Subsequent papers in the series will delve into how to achieve health and equity, funding and payment for the health service, and the development of a motivated, well-trained workforce while prioritizing sustainability and a greener NHS.

In an editorial, Kamran Abbasi and Commission co-chairs Victor Adebowale, Parveen Kumar, and Liam Smeeth emphasize the urgent need for a robust and values-based response to the national health and care crisis. They call for a commitment to the NHS’s founding principles, prioritizing the health and wellbeing of the population, and invoking the spirit of Aneurin Bevan in creating a better, fairer, and healthier world.

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