The Wanless review: 17 years on

How the current state of the NHS differs from Wanless’ vision

18 January 2019

By Professor Peter Kopelman

2 minute read

The NHS Long Term Plan, published last week, set out a vision for how the health service needs to change over the next 10 years (see CPP’s response here). It is therefore timely to re-consider the recommendations made by a panel chaired by Sir Derek Wanless that considered the future NHS funding requirements for the next 20 years, published by the Treasury in April 2002. Professor Peter Kopelman has looked back at the 2002 Wanless review to remind us of the aspirations and challenges it set out 17 years ago.

Read the full article by Professor Kopelman

Based on this article, CPP revisited the Wanless review and drew the following observations on the how the current state of the NHS differs from Wanless’ vision:

  • NHS funding continues to fall far short of that proposed by the Wanless review, even after the additional £20bn promised by Government.
  • Wanless anticipated a shortfall in nurses and GPs by 2020, even in a scenario where the review’s ambitious recommendations had been fully accepted and delivered.
  • Wanless argued for better integration of health and social care for older people in order to free up expensive hospital beds for more patients. This remains a substantial and growing cost to the NHS.
  • Wanless anticipated that population ageing would be a particularly important cost pressure for social care, yet between 2009-10 and 2015-16, public adult social care spending fell by 6.4% while the population aged 65 and older grew by 15.6%.
  • The importance of increased emphasis on prevention in public health, yet prevention spending has remained a small fraction of the total health budget since.