More private health integration with NHS welcomed

Independent practitioners will, in future, work in a private healthcare environment that is much more integrated with services provided by the state.

Nial Dickson, head of the NHS Confederation

That is the vision being set out by Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector.

Responding to the extra £3bn announced for NHS funding last week, he said: ‘We look forward to a different future in which social care, the independent and the voluntary and community services are seen as part of an integrated system, not as something separate, different and other.’

He said it was ‘good news’ that the NHS Confederation’s call for the agreement with the private sector to continue to undertake routine NHS operations had been granted.

Mr Dickson added: ‘We also welcome the decision to retain the Nightingale hospitals – they are set up and staffed differently across the country and their value will depend on local circumstances, but if used properly, they can be a useful insurance policy against the increased pressures of winter.’

Turning to the £3bn, he said: ‘This is a vital injection for a service that faces one of the most difficult periods in its history. We will look at the detail, but of course it is welcome and ministers and NHS England and Improvement deserve credit for securing it.

‘The NHS faces the prospect of a perfect storm – the virus is alive and present, and that means the productivity of clinical services going forward is hugely impaired; some estimate they will be only be able to operate at 65% of normal capacity.

‘The service has been turned upside down in successful efforts to cope with the first wave. It has barely begun to start to recover from that trauma and it must do so with one hand effectively tied behind its back with social distancing and PPE affecting every clinical intervention.’