Who can see the NHS’s future?

Posted on April 15, 2011 by


We have the names of the people who are going to be taking a fresh look at the health bill as part of the NHS future forum, I can see a few nice researchy faces in there, and also some with a strong patient background. It’s going to be interesting to find out more about how they’ll work.. they are planning to deliver an initial report direct to David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Andrew Lansley by the end of May.


In July 2010, the government published a white paper, Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, which proposed changest to how the NHS works. The Health & Social Care Bill was published on 19 January 2011 and aims to make the legislative changes necessary to put these proposals into action. It makes little explicit mention of research but is reorganising the architecture in ways which will impact research.

The Bill has just completed committee stage in the Commons, being scrutinised by MPs clause by clause.

The Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, announced that there would be a “natural break” in the travel of the bill through the commons to allow the government to “pause, listen and engage” and consider making changes to Bill.

They have asked for the public to get in contact and are planning events for people to do this. But they have also established a group which they have called the NHS Future Forum, chaired by Steve Field, full of patient representatives, doctors and nurses to feed in their views on the government’s current plans and how they think they should be tweaked.

What is the NHS Future Forum going to do?

It is chaired by Steve Field and has four leaders working alongside him.

It is planning a series of events and activities to produce a report:

  • facilitating local engagement events across the NHS to engage staff and leaders in improving our plans
  • engaging with existing professional and other networks from across the health sector
  • encouraging pathfinder consortia and early implementer health and wellbeing boards to contribute their views
  • using surveying, polling, digital engagement and other techniques to harness a wide range of views
  • a small number of national engagement events.

which it will send to David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Andrew Lansley by the end of May.

But it won’t stop work there – it has a remit to continuing advising down the line on other non-legislative aspects of the modernisation plans, the process of implementing the changes, and the design of any secondary legislation.

What next?

We’re obviously keeping an eye on what the NHS future forum is up to. We probably won’t know exactly when the Health & Social Care bill will return to parliament for a while – best guess somewhere in June – when we do it’ll be heading for report stage and third reading in the Commons and the info will be here.

So while all this pausing, waiting and reflecting is going on, we’re getting super busy. I’m working with a coalition of groups that care about research to identify the big issues we’re worried about (see a quick summary of the big worries here) and explore how we can make sure that research gets a look in to all the ongoing discussions. This will include engaging with the future forum, and taking part in the discussion that we’re all having right now and speaking direct to parliamentarians so that they  have the information they need to pick up on these issues when they get back to debating the bill..

Posted in: Policy