When the NHS was created the patient’s average life expectancy was 65 and now 70 years later the average UK life expectancy is 85 years. The original service design has successfully done its job, but its success has created a new era of healthcare delivery where those original principles must be upheld – high quality care, free at the point of delivery. However, in meeting those principles we need to utilise the full range of skills of the healthcare scientist – an area of the NHS that has developed unimaginably since 1948.
Quality, accuracy, reliability and innovation have to act as the skeleton of the future NHS to deliver affordable and effective healthcare, beyond the biased control of the politicians but instead governed by the hands of the patient groups and fully regulated healthcare professionals. For this to happen we need enough appropriately trained scientists and technologists to once again deliver the best and most effective NHS services on the planet.
By 2088 we would want to see around 75,000 healthcare scientists at the centre of innovative diagnosis and therapy in all patient pathways. We will be working differently, but to the same high standards, creating services based on excellent research evidence to deliver more high-quality personalised care. Life expectancy may not increase much more, but quality of life has to be improved for all.