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Cooperation Can Build a Better NHS

In a new comment piece published today in The Lancet, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and leading cancer specialist Professor David Kerr make the case for greater cooperation in health care provision in the UK.

The successful roll-out of the Covid vaccine demonstrated the benefits of a collaborative approach within the NHS, the article states.

It concludes: “If we are to meet the health challenges of the future, to support the NHS as it struggles with rising demand and workforce shortages, and to make the NHS a more efficient institution, then the same cooperative effort that made the COVID-19 vaccine and treatment trials such a success in the UK must be enshrined by all the governments of the UK.”

“The NHS is one of the UK’s most valued institutions but its future sustainability cannot be taken for granted. In the wake of the pandemic, UK-wide cooperation must remain a core element of the NHS’s recovery.”

The paper says that areas where more cooperation might support NHS frontline delivery is in the procurement of medicines, in generating value in collective bargaining, in the fight against health inequality, in data management, and in the take up of new technology.

It argues that “too often over the past two decades, the governments of the UK have failed to collaborate and squandered the potential benefits that cooperation can deliver to people’s lives.”

The article comes ahead of a major report on Health Cooperation which Our Scottish Future will publish this coming autumn. The report will set out how greater collaboration between the four NHS services of the UK can deliver better health outcomes and a more efficient service for each part of the UK.

Professor David Kerr is the author of the National Framework for Service Change in the NHS in Scotland, which set out key recommendations on how to make the Scottish health service fit for the future.

A PDF of the full article can be accessed here.

The Lancet is one of the world’s leading medical journals.

Comment pieces are written by experts in the field, and represent their own views, rather than necessarily the views of The Lancet or any Lancet specialty journal. Unlike Articles containing original research, not all Comments are externally peer reviewed.

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