HCL Issue 10 - Page 8

8 INTERVIEW RICHARD MURRAY ‘The workforce issue sits as a black cloud on the long-term plan’ he King’s Fund needs very little introduction, and Richard Murray, 53, who has a long record in the health sector, took over as chief executive in time to steer the think tank’s new five-year strategy. Mr Murray has held senior positions at the Department of Health and NHS England, and came to The King’s Fund in 2014 as director of policy. ‘This is a critical time for health and social care,’ he says. ‘We’re looking at what we do and how we do it.’ T ‘The long-term plan is pragmatic’ The much-anticipated long-term plan for the NHS was published in January and attempts to outline how the health service will develop over the next 10 years. Mr Murray says: ‘Some of the plan rightly carries on the strategic direction we’ve seen before. It’s a good confirmation of the direction of travel.’ A key part of the plan is that primary and community care will receive an annual £4.5bn funding injection by 2023-24. While this sounds like a considerable amount, Mr Murray is not overly impressed with it. ‘The money is not particularly remarkable by historic standards. I know the Government likes to say so, but it’s still Healthcare Leader 2019 Issue 10 below the long-term average for the NHS, so it’s not exceptional. Until we see what will be done with the workforce challenge, I think the jury is still out,’ he says. However, he adds that, when compared with the Five-Year Forward View, the long- term plan is ‘more pragmatic’. It is, he continues, not overly focused on meeting waiting time targets, which he feels allows more opportunities for objectives to be met. ‘The long-term plan hasn’t promised that A&E targets will be met. This may make it more disappointing for the politicians, but it’s pragmatic and I think increases the chances that the plan can be delivered,’ he says. The plan includes details of new clinical targets for areas such as cancer, stroke, diabetes and respiratory care, including outlining that, by 2028, the NHS will diagnose 75% of cancers at stage 1 or 2. ‘Take these clinical priorities as a collective and the promises are fairly daunting,’ Mr Murray says. He also points out that managers, leaders and commissioners can’t implement all changes simultaneously. ‘The plan had some very long lists of things that will be done. There seem to be a lot of moving parts at a time where there are many vacancies for posts across the service.’ He adds that he doubts it provides the immediate solutions many NHS leaders and patients have been searching for. ‘I hope the plan gives us a way to meet the challenge, but the service has » Deputy editor Angela Sharda talks to The King’s Fund chief executive Richard Murray about the long-term plan, leadership and addressing the workforce crisis