College seeks clarity over Prime Minister's NHS funding plan

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Three of Scotland’s leading Medical Royal Colleges have written to the Prime Minister, calling for more detail on the future funding settlement for the NHS. The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow penned a joint letter to Theresa May after her March announcement that the UK Government will come forward with a long-term plan for a multi-year funding settlement for the NHS.

The Colleges, who collectively represent over 50,000 medical professionals across the UK, want the Prime Minister to stick to her commitment to include NHS leaders, clinicians and other health experts in developing a long-term funding plan. They have called on the UK Government to set up a working group involving the Royal Colleges, healthcare practitioners, patients, the public, and politicians alike. This group would be briefed to find solutions to alleviate the pressures faced across the NHS, and would be consulted on any multi-year funding settlement for the NHS.

The organisations have also called on the Prime Minister to clarify whether she has investigated models which encourage genuine dialogue and the sharing of best practice between the UK Government, the devolved Governments and those delivering care to create an environment that supports all of those working within the NHS. It is important to enable health systems in the four nations of the UK to learn from one another by sharing best practice and engaging partners.

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, last week revealed his top priorities for the forthcoming “long term plan” for the NHS, telling the Health Service Journal that it will represent one of the “big moments in NHS history”.

Commenting, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Professor Derek Bell OBE, said:

“It’s encouraging that Theresa May has publicly committed her Government to implementing a multi-year funding settlement for the NHS. This would help to address the problems associated with annual top-ups of the NHS budget and perhaps even depoliticise the NHS to some extent – something which we have called for in our Future for the NHS in Scotland document which we published with the Good Governance Institute.

“However, this cannot be accomplished without the knowledge and expertise of clinicians, health experts, and those leading the NHS. That is why we have proposed a working group, so that the Royal Colleges and others can feed into discussions about how we develop a sustainable, long term funding plan, and address the pressures that the NHS is currently experiencing.

“Our Fellows and Members are vastly experienced in developing healthcare solutions, and I would urge the Prime Minister to draw on their knowledge and expertise. It is vital that we create a culture where clinicians have the time to care, time to train, and time to research.

Whilst we acknowledge the funding challenges that the NHS faces, we believe that by rethinking the approach to focus on long-term and sustainable solutions, we can achieve a world-class workforce delivering the best possible patient care safely.

President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Professor Michael Lavelle-Jones said:

“It is evident to us that multi-year funding is essential to ensure that the NHS can make longer term plans to address the current pressures it is experiencing, rather than relying on short term initiatives and funding top ups. Whilst we welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement, we acknowledge that longer term planning will require input from a range of experts working within and alongside the NHS.

“RCSEd, along with RCPSG and RCPE, is keen to offer the expertise of our Fellows and Members who are working within the NHS on a daily basis and who fully understand the challenges being faced on the frontline.”

Professor David Galloway, President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow said:

“Developing a long-term spending plan for the NHS in England would be a welcome move, but the real value of such a process could be developing these plans in a collaborative way with stakeholders from across the health service. Our members have a wealth of unrivalled clinical and organisational experience within the NHS, and so it would add great value to this process if this could be brought to bear on the future planning process.

“It’s only by working with clinicians and health experts that we can ensure that we have a fair funding package for the NHS, which addresses rising demand in the service. It’s in everyone’s interests that we get this process right.”

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