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Shaping Health Futures A programme to support health and social care policymakers to prepare better for the future

Illustration for the Shaping Health futures programme
  • Thinking long term is hard in an area as complex and challenging as health and social care. It is easy to focus on the issues that matter today, but the risk is that short-term issues crowd out the thinking needed to prepare effectively for the future.
  • This programme will support health and social care leaders to prepare better for the future by incorporating thinking on long-term issues and the choices they present more effectively into today’s plans and policy decisions and to test the methods and approaches to do this in an ongoing way.  
  • It will provide new thinking and analysis, and promote debate through our event series on some of the key issues shaping health and social care over the next 10–25 years.
  • This programme forms part of the Health Foundation’s wider commitment to securing the long-term sustainability of UK health and social care systems. 

Shaping Health Futures is our programme of research, analysis and capability building to explore some of the long-term issues impacting health and social care and their implications for policy today.

Why have we developed this programme?

The UK is facing a time of significant change and uncertainty, with implications for our health. Changes in the population, society, technology, politics, the environment and other areas will interact in complex ways to shape the future of health and social care. Some long-term issues are relatively well known to health and social care leaders, such as growing numbers of people living with multiple long-term conditions. But the health implications of other changes may be less visible – such as rapid advancements in digital technologies, climate change, or the potential long-term effects of austerity. Changes in these areas bring both challenges and opportunities, as well as difficult questions and trade-offs.

Although plans for the future of health and social care are developed regularly – most recently in the NHS long term plan – short-termism often dominates in the sector. Thinking about the issues facing health and social care in the future is nothing new. The more difficult question is to what extent this should be done and how this thinking can be used to help today’s leaders make more effective decisions – particularly in the face of political realities and short-term pressures facing health and social care services. The Shaping Health Futures programme will work with health and social care leaders to explore these questions. We will also be providing new thinking and analysis, as well as hosting a series of events around some of the big issues facing the future of health and social care.

Find out more

If you have any questions you can email the team futures@health.org.uk, and if you’d like us to keep in touch with news and updates about Shaping Health Futures, sign up below.


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