Today’s proposed wider roll-out of personalised care, announced by Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid, will be welcome to patients – provided it delivers everything it promises.

This must mean:

  • More partnership working between patients and clinicians and professionals
  • An improvement in the NHS’s capability to use shared decision making techniques in individual patient consultations, and using them more consistently
  • A culture shift to make the NHS a learning organisation, valuing what patients say and acting on it, not least when things go wrong.

One concern is that the focus on choice and personalisation, particularly with the greater use of personal health budgets, could result in patient choice being seen as something similar to consumer choice in other walks of life. Such an approach, we believe, could fall short of genuine partnership between patients and professionals, and risks descending into a box-ticking exercise.

The success of the Secretary of State’s vision also depends on the NHS overcoming the many serious challenges it faces, including workforce shortages that are hindering efforts to rebuild after the pandemic, with no clear plan or funding to solve them.

Patients are also facing long and growing waiting lists, and the COVID-19 pandemic is not over: hospitalisations have risen in recent days, and as have overall cases, and many people are still dealing with the consequences of long COVID. But we welcome the Secretary of State’s recognition that there were problems even before the pandemic.

Greater use of the NHS App will be beneficial, provided new services and functionality are developed with patients, ensuring it meets their needs and does not leave behind anyone who can’t use it or prefers not to.

Overall, it is a relief that Mr Javid is not planning a reorganisation of the NHS. His vision focuses on enhancing and expanding existing initiatives.

8th March 2022