Wellcome Trust calls for clearer vision for NHS reform

The government’s proposed reforms to the National Health Service lack a clear vision of what a 21st-century health service should deliver, according to the Director of the Wellcome Trust, Sir Mark Walport. Furthermore, he argues, the reforms overlook the potential of medical research to translate into better care for patients and contribute to the nation’s economic recovery.

Speaking at a press conference in London alongside Sir John Bell, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS), and Sir Michael Rawlins, Chair of the AMS working group on the regulation and governance of health research, Sir Mark argued that the proposed reforms focus on the structure of the NHS rather than its function.

Sir Mark has set out the key elements of a vision of an NHS fit for the 21st century. The vision for reform of the NHS must be to provide the best health for the population at a price that is affordable. To realise this vision, we must:

integrate all strands of healthcare, including primary and hospital care and clinical, mental and public health; similarly, health and social care must be integrated make the best use of health information - both for the care of individual patients and for the population adopt effective new therapies and technologies, and abandon those that do not work educate, train, develop and retain a caring, flexible and skilled workforce enable the NHS to contribute to economic recovery and growth by fostering innovation, and acting as an effective stimulus and market to the pharmaceutical and medical devices industries that are key components of the UK economy.

"The NHS must provide the best healthcare for the population at a price that is affordable," he says. "The NHS does need to change, but the government must not miss this important opportunity to ensure that this change is for the better and results in a better service to the population with improved public health.”

“The Wellcome Trust spends over £600 million a year on research and over 80 per cent of this is spent within the UK. Yet the NHS continually fails to capitalise on discoveries from our research laboratories and does not encourage the translation of these outcomes into better methods of preventing, diagnosing and treating ill health."