Members of the Lords, including doctors, a former president of the Royal College of Physicians and the current chair of an NHS Trust, debated the future of the National Health Service, on Thursday 8 January.
Members of the Lords discussed many of the challenges facing the NHS, and considered several long-term solutions. While recognising the principles underpinning the NHS, and its reputation worldwide as a model for healthcare delivery, several specific problems were identified.
Increased demand for services, an ageing population and the increasing costs involved in acute treatment, together with inflation in broader healthcare costs, were all discussed as factors putting pressure on the NHS today.
Among the solutions proposed were a sharper focus on disease prevention through public health and increased collaboration between hospitals and community services.
Many members called for specific areas to receive urgent attention, including accident and emergency facilities, access to GPs and mental health services. The need for more investment in research and development in areas where the potential benefits are greater was also raised.
Health minister, Earl Howe (Conservative), responded on behalf of the government and reiterated its commitment to delivering high quality care and increasing efficiency.