The NHS Long Term Plan and what the industry response should be

Speaking at the launch of the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP), NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens referred to the NHS’ 70th anniversary. He made it clear that the LTP was all about the NHS 80th anniversary. A clear datum for the scale of the LTP implementation that will unfold over the next ten years.

The LTP aims are:

* Everyone gets the best start in life

* World-class care for major health problems

* Ageing well.

Concerns that the general election might impact on the LTP have evaporated due to a solid government majority, a returning ministerial line up – Matt Hancock and Jo Churchill keeping their jobs – and indicated legislation. This all means the LTP promissory note is cashable.

Pharma needs to recognise that the innovation dynamics have changed. Drugs are no longer the poor relation of device. Drugs initiate change in the patient situation and are the vector for improved outcomes. As for the aims of the LTP, pharma is well placed to articulate its real-world evidence for this. It should now adopt one of the NHS’ favourite mantras: right care, right time, right place.

Right care

Breakthrough technologies and molecules that add value to medicine optimisation and change lives daily through curing, eradicating, modifying and managing, and preventing disease and sickness.

Right time

Health commissioners are reducing cost burdens and the LTP is a blueprint to do more. For example, over-the-counter medicines in the marketplace continue to grow, with the market currently standing at around £2.6 billion.

The Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access will provide for best–value drugs to be fast-tracked through the approval process and provide up to £1 billion of savings.

The Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) and Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) together support innovators, set strategy and provide a link between research, life sciences industry and healthcare and aim to straddle sectoral boundaries.

Right place

Pharma must assert itself as more than just a supplier. The sum of value is greater than that of a bottom-line saving. It is time for the industry to call-out what partnership means in the NHS/medicines supply chain.

Engaging with impact

Health system locality plans determine how drugs operate within care pathways. Pharma needs to scope patient benefits beyond access to medicines and their effects on symptoms and pathology. Factors like restoring economic viability and independence, reducing unwarranted interventions and normalising lifestyle need to be demonstrated through patient experience and the use of intelligent data. Dialogue should be geared to:

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Understanding the level of variation with analysis to identify service optimisation opportunities and increase access

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Demonstrating how a drug will optimise the care pathway and reduce cost. Be in it for the long term, the LTP makes five- and ten-year deals possible

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Building a local credible case for change that local health system leaders understand and a link to a service delivery model they can adopt. Using data as its spine

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Creating a real-world evidence/population health framework to collect patient/carer generated service experience along with operational and financial data

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Increasing awareness of the product via case studies.

Post LTP, the NHS architecture is becoming more complex. Looking at it another way, integrated care systems and primary care networks mean fewer people to engage with. However, capitalising on that means pharma needs to understand the challenges, tensions, ambitions and objectives health systems will face during the lifetime of the LTP and drive the outcomes desired by its aims. Do that, and we can all enjoy a happy NHS 80th anniversary.

Johnny Skillicorn-Aston is engagement and communication director and James Roach managing director at Conclusio. For more information, visit www.conclusio.org.uk or email johnny.skillicornaston@conclusio.org.uk, james.roach@conclusio.org.uk or enquiries@conclusio.org.uk