Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, has urged Boris Johnson to show ambition for the nation’s health and wellbeing, and pursue a strategic approach that is co-ordinated across all areas of government that affect people’s wellbeing.

Her letter of congratulation to the Prime Minister on his appointment states:

“The Patients Association believes that, as a nation, we should be ambitious for the health and wellbeing we achieve: we must seek to improve from the current position, not merely hold station. This means more than meeting some of the substantial health and care policy challenges: it means a sustained, strategic approach across the whole of government, aligning other relevant policy areas such as benefits and housing with health policy. In the first instance, I would like to suggest that judicious changes to central government, such as a Cabinet committee on health and wellbeing, might be considered to achieve this.”

The letter goes on to outline key priorities and challenges for the health and wellbeing agenda:
  • It urges the Prime Minister to stick with the NHS’s Long Term Plan as a vehicle for change
  • It calls for funding to match 2018’s increases, for areas outside the NHS England ‘ringfence’: infrastructure, workforce development, public health
  • It welcomes the Prime Minister’s recognition of the crisis in social care and commitment to address it, noting that social care is vital for many working age adults, not just older people
  • It emphasises the dangers of the current workforce shortage, not least for patient safety
  • It makes clear the urgency of the situation, with NHS performance suffering across the board relative to its targets and patients’ expectations
  • It calls on the Government to be frank with the public about the cost of funding high quality public services.

Rachel also addresses the controversial issue of Brexit and the health service:

“Finally, Brexit must be made to work for patients. Many people who voted for it did so in the expectation that it would not harm the NHS, and some in the expectation it would be actively beneficial. I understand that medical supplies are being given top priority in planning for any possible departure from the EU without a deal, which is welcome. Beyond that, Brexit offers a concentration of opportunity, such as to re-cast some of our regulatory provisions, and risk, for instance if future immigration arrangements are unable to secure the health and care workforce we need. Given the fundamentally high stakes involved for the lives of so many people, it is essential that Brexit is successful in delivering benefits for health and wellbeing.”

Read Rachel's full letter to the Prime Minister.

Rachel has also written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Photo from Downing Street Flickr account, under Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.