What is a Lancet Commission?
A Lancet Commission involves a partnership with world-renowned institutions and policy experts to focus on wide-reaching issues. Previous Lancet Commissions have covered areas such as Antimicrobial Resistance and AIDS. Each Lancet Commission is different, but all involve a panel of academics who use their collective expertise and draw on input from diverse sets of stakeholders to dissect the driving factors behind the issue at hand, produce original research when possible and a series of policy recommendations. Previous examples of Lancet Commissions are accessible via www.thelancet.com/commissions.
Why a Lancet Commission on the future of the NHS?
There is a historic precedent for major commissions in the NHS. For example, the 1979 Royal Commission on the NHS offered several important insights into its operation. Other landmark reports have contributed significantly to the evaluation and development of the NHS, for example, the 1980 Black Report exposed the growing health inequalities across the population, the 2004 Wanless Report successfully argued for increased funding for the NHS via general taxation and the recent House of Lords Committee has highlighted the need for new models of care and earmarked sustainable funding. Moving forward, there is a need for an independent and objective perspective on the NHS. The LSE–Lancet Commission aims to provide this perspective.
The London School of Economics and Political Science
The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) is a world-renowned educational institution, ranked 2nd in the world for social sciences. The Department of Health Policy is one of the largest health policy research groups in the UK, and through its Head, Professor Elias Mossialos, and Deputy Head, Professor Alistair McGuire, will devote significant time and resources to ensure the success of the Commission. LSE hopes to build on a long tradition at the university, such as the work of previous LSE Director, Professor William Beveridge, whose seminal ‘Beveridge Report’ provided the intellectual underpinnings for the establishment of the NHS and others, such as Professor Brian Abel-Smith and Professor Richard Titmuss, who played an important role in supporting the continued development of the NHS throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
The Department of Health Policy is devoted to excellence in multidisciplinary teaching across the full range of health economics and health policy, including the areas of health systems analysis, assessment of health policy reforms, global health governance, health services research, health econometrics, microeconomic analysis of health care, the analysis of individual health behaviours, the economics of long-term care, pharmaceutical policy and economics, and comparative effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of individual treatments.
What will the Commission focus on?
The Commission hopes to address the main challenges facing the NHS in both the immediate future and the next 20 years. These issues are wide ranging, from establishing sustainable funding, to securing a sufficient and skilled workforce and addressing the conflicting incentives between the multitude of organisations within the NHS. In addition, the Commission will consider the health inequalities in the population and the difficulties in accessing consistent and high-quality care, while also considering changing healthcare needs set against a background of shifting public expectations and involvement in healthcare. Lastly, the Commission will focus on the information needs for the NHS, as well as the role of technology moving forward.
The Commission involves over 20 commissioners from many disciplines including health policy, public health and epidemiology, as well as healthcare professionals and managers who have practical experience of tackling the problems facing the NHS. The commissioners are based across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This helps ensure lessons can be learnt from the different governance structures and delivery mechanisms in place across the UK. The full list of commissioners is available here.
The Commission will produce two outputs. The first will be released in mid-2018 and is a background paper analysing international healthcare financing arrangements and exploring what lessons can be learnt for the NHS. The main Commission output will be a comprehensive report released in 2019.