Prime Minister David Cameron has set out the case for change in the NHS.
Speaking to an audience of patients and staff at Ealing Hospital, Mr Cameron said the NHS needs to change to make it work better today and to “avoid a crisis tomorrow”.
In April, the Government launched a “listening exercise” to take place over a two-month period to hear the public’s views on NHS modernisation.
The PM acknowledged the concerns of many doctors and nurses and stressed again that there would be “substantive changes” to the reforms.
But Mr Cameron maintained that modernisation was crucial to “save” the NHS from rising costs that pointed to a £20 billion funding gap by 2015.
There’s only one option we’ve got, and that is to change and modernise the NHS, to make it more efficient and more effective, and above all, more focused on prevention, on health, not just sickness.
We save the NHS by changing it. We risk its long-term future by resisting change now.
David Cameron said the listening exercise was an opportunity to “pause, listen, reflect and improve on our proposals” and a genuine chance to make a difference.
However, he said “sticking with the status quo and hoping we can get by with a bit more money is simply not an option”.
If we stay as we are, the NHS will need £130 billion a year by 2015 - meaning a potential funding gap of £20 billion.
The PM reassured the audience in Ealing that the reforms would be “evolutionary, not revolutionary” with no privatisation or cherry-picking from private providers. He stressed that the NHS would remain much like it is today.
Mr Cameron also insisted that his own commitment to the NHS had only got stronger in recent years.
It’s because I love the NHS so much that I want to change it, because the fact is the NHS needs to change.
The listening exercise will run until the end of May with events running in every part of the country.
The NHS Future Forum, which was announced as part of the listening exercise, will also submit an independent report at end of May with recommendations for changes to the Health and Social Care Bill.