The everyday pressures on the NHS and social care are real and, with COVID-19, have never been more challenging. Even before the pandemic, almost everyone involved in the health and social care system seemed to be absorbed by day-to-day struggles, leaving the future to ‘take care of itself’. That was a conclusion of the 2017 Lords Select Committee report on the long-term sustainability of the NHS and adult social care. The committee noted that even if short-termism was understandable, it presented a serious problem. The report recommended better, independent, long-range planning to quantify the demands upon the NHS and social care system, the resources needed to meet these demands, and an analysis of key policies to shape each. 

Responding to this, the Health Foundation is launching the REAL Centre (Research and Economic Analysis for the Long term), backed by around £20m of dedicated funding. The Centre will provide independent projections to help identify future health and care needs, all influenced by evidence of how policies have impacted in the past. The REAL Centre aims to help ensure that health and social care policy decisions are grounded in facts and strong quantitative evidence. 

Catch up with our inaugural REAL Challenge Lecture from Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the REAL Centre’s oversight board, who outlined how some key challenges in health and social care are exacerbated by a short-termist approach and why longer-term planning will help. 

We were joined for reflections on Sir Andrew's lecture by an expert panel: Anita Charlesworth, Raj Jain and Wes Streeting MP.

The REAL Challenge

Speakers and panellists

Andrew Dilnot is Warden of Nuffield College Oxford and Chair of the Geospatial Commission.  He was Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority from 2012 to 2017, and was the Chairman of the Commission on the Funding of Care and Support, which reported in 2011.  He was Principal of St Hugh’s College, Oxford, from 2002 to 2012 and a Pro Vice Chancellor of Oxford University from 2005 to 2012. He was Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies from 1991 to 2002.  He was the founding presenter of BBC Radio 4’s series on the beauty of numbers, ‘More or Less’ and has presented two series of programmes on Radio 4 ‘A History of Britain in Numbers’.  

Andrew has served on the Social Security Advisory Committee, the National Consumer Council, the Councils of the Royal Economic Society and Queen Mary and Westfield College, as a trustee of the Nuffield Foundation, and as chairman of the Statistics Users Forum of the Royal Statistical Society.  He holds Honorary Doctorates from City University and The Open University, and a City and Guilds Fellowship.  He was given an Honorary Fellowship by the British Academy in July 2018. 

Andrew Dilnot

Raj is Chief Executive of the Northern Care Alliance (NCA) which comprises the Care Organisations for Salford Royal, Rochdale and Bury, and Royal Oldham. The NCA has a turnover of £1.3bn, 19,000 staff and is a specialist, general and integrated (health & social care) provider in the northern part of Greater Manchester. 

Previously Raj was Chief of Strategy & OD / Deputy CEO of the NCA and in this role he led the development of the corporate strategy for Salford Royal. Previous to this role, Raj was Managing Director of Greater Manchester AHSN. This organisation was created to support citizens, health organisations, companies and Higher Education to improve health and economic wealth through the spread of innovation at pace and scale. Raj has also been Chief Executive of an NHS FT that achieved Hospital of the year in 2012 and has held senior roles in Teaching and District General Hospitals. 

Raj spent the early part of his career in the oil and gas industry.  He is an economist by training and was a HR & OD professional. Raj has been a director of two research organisations and has held regional and national leadership positions in development and planning. He is currently on the North Regional Talent Board.  Raj is currently a director of a tech company and also a board member of the REAL Oversight Board, a Health Foundation funded enterprise that seeks to influence health and social care policy.

Raj was born in the UK, and has Punjabi Indian parents who emigrated to the UK in the 1950s. He is passionate about inequalities, works with bodies inside and outside of the NHS to address issues and works to embed fairness in the organisations he leads.

Raj Jain

Wes Streeting is the Labour Member of Parliament for Ilford North and Shadow Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, responsible for a range of issues including UK growth and productivity, place based economic strategy, skills, R&D and green infrastructure. He previously sat on the House of Commons Treasury committee and Chaired the Backbench Treasury Committee of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Wes bucked the trend to win his parliamentary seat at the 2015 election with the largest swing from the Conservatives to Labour in the country. Prior to that, Wes served as deputy leader and cabinet member for health and wellbeing of the London Borough of Redbridge.

In his career outside politics, Wes served in the voluntary sector as a chief executive and in other senior leadership roles for a number of national charities focused on tackling inequality and educational disadvantage. He is a vice-president of the Local Government Association and a former president of the National Union of Students.

Wes grew up on a council estate in the East End of London and was the first person in his family to graduate from university. Wes read history at Selwyn College, Cambridge.

Wes Streeting


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The bigger picture

October 2020

In the REAL Centre's first report, we look back at the care and treatment provided by the NHS in...

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