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Futureproofing the NHS

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In 2018, the NHS celebrated its 70th birthday, providing an opportunity for the public to reflect proudly on the achievements of the health service and consider what the future might bring.

To coincide with this milestone, a student-led health commission, overseen by researchers from King’s College London, was tasked with coming up with radical and creative ideas for how the health service can meet the needs and expectations of those who will use it in the future.

The commission was made up of students and recent graduates from King’s, representing a wide range of personal and academic backgrounds – from Romania to Malaysia and from medicine to English literature.

The project was the first of its kind to engage young people by training them to carry out their own policy analysis and make practical recommendations about an institution that they have an important stake in as future users of the NHS.

The commission's work culminated in a the publication of a report which recommended that policymakers:

  • establish an independent health policy committee, modelled on the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, to end political control of the NHS and secure its sustainability over the long term
  • develop programmes that promote healthy lifestyles beyond clinical settings
  • support re-specialisation and greater career flexibility for NHS staff
  • make it easier for staff and patients to suggest and develop new innovations in the health service
  • create a digital platform that connects users and provides them with support as they pursue healthy behaviours.

The commission’s research included running policy labs (small, interactive workshops) with key stakeholders, experts and people of interest, as well as analysing data from interviews, surveys and desk research.