NHS Confederation Believes Hospital Closures Will Be Beneficial

20 June 2013

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NHS Confederation Believes Hospital Closures Will Be Beneficial

The NHS Confederation, National Voices and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said the health service in England must be organised differently to provide better quality care, which meant some hospitals would need to be closed down.

Today’s report, Changing care, improving quality, said public reaction to planned hospital changes in the past, which have been driven by financial or clinical problems, had polarised the debate about reorganisation.

Published on the first day of the NHS Confederation's annual conference, the report set out five recommendations for local health service bosses to ensure essential reconfigurations could proceed. These included ‘more meaningful' involvement of patients in the development of any reform plans, being honest about the financial risks across the system, and involving clinicians so they could help communicate the changes.  

The report concluded that the health service must do more to emphasise a ‘whole system’ approach, so communities did not see hospital closures as a loss but understood that reinvestment in community services would lead to better services. A number of structural barriers hindering local changes had also to be addressed, including the existing payment-by-results system for hospitals, which is currently being reviewed by health sector regulator Monitor and the national commissioning body NHS England.

NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar stated the health service ‘must overcome its paralysis in relation to change, and it must bring the right people with it’. Professor Terence Stephenson, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, added that changes to how care is provided were needed to deliver high quality provision in the future. ‘We want to create a culture of joint working, where it is normal for patients to be involved in every stage of designing their health care,’ he said.

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