Making the wheel spin faster

In case you are thinking that this project is a bit too ambitious, let me say a few words about what we do and how we do it.

The aims are big, I agree; the Commission is essentially paving the way for the NHS of the future. If you are starting to think “New and Improved- NHS’s Updated Prototype- Cutting Edge Technology” I’m afraid I will have to burst the Sci-Fi bubble and explain that our approach is more holistic than that.

As part of the Healthy Living Team and as its former Team Manager, I have learned the valuable lesson that progress is best achieved not when new ideas exist independently, but when they are employed to perfect the applicability of older ones. I can extrapolate this to the whole Commission and say that we do not aim to reinvent the wheel, we wish to make it spin faster.


As much as we all love “reinvention” the issues we are combating are ever-existing problems, but the ways through which we are approaching our solutions are where innovation and creativity kick in. I am a big believer in the “no spoilers” policy, so I will sum up our ideas as cross disciplinary. All three teams have reached further than traditional solutions and are developing simple answers which, most importantly, integrate the people who have most to gain from their applicability in the process.

Novelty is still a big part of the equation, so rest assured, our future will be “futuristic” in a tangible and implementable way. No one can dismiss the importance of technological advance in the way healthcare should be revised and applied, so it will also play a role in each of our solutions. The important thing to take away is that we are using all of the available social, technological, economical resources in order to develop a service fit for its target audience. There cannot be a “one size fits all approach”, and this will clearly be reflected in our Report.

Hoping that these brief words have sparked your interest, I will invite you to stay tuned to the Fifteen Years Forward Blog. New content coming soon.

Part of the first policy lab (from left: Maria Carla Hartescu, Haider Sheikh)

Maria Carla Hartescu wrote from her experience in the student-led Health commission. She recently graduated with a Law degree and a Masters in Arts on Medical Ethics and Law. Edited by the social media team. 

Tell us what is important to you

If you work or study in a healthcare capacity, the Health commissioners want to hear from you.

We are interested in hearing from you on what the NHS should look like in 15 years time. By filling out one of the questionnaires below, you will be part of an inter-generational initiative to tell the NHS what future users may need from the country’s health and social care system. Your input will contribute to the study authors’ report, which will be reported directly to the NHS’s strategy team. This will help commissioners make suggestions for radical upgrades in the future.

Designing health and social care systems (from left: Anne Marie Rafferty, Alexander Lee)

Want to tell us how the NHS can become a better place to work in the next 15 years? Help us find new solutions to strengthen staff health and well-being by taking 5 minutes to answer these quick questions about different corporate strategies:

Are you  a student or recent graduate planning to work in a healthcare capacity? Please share your thoughts so we can make the NHS more malleable to change and innovation before you enter your desired job:

Work in healthcare in the UK? How easy it is to apply new solutions to health service problems? Tell our student led health commission what the NHS can do to be innovative over the next 15 years

Facilitating an ‘innovative’ policy lab (from left: Jeevitha T Thurai Rathnam, Synthia Enyioma)

Introducing the healthy living group!

What are we about? Well from our recent policy lab, it seems that the answer to that question is as broad as the creativity of many of our participants from the Millennial generation! Most excitingly of all, the numerous interactive exercises, which we asked our attendees to engage with over the course of three hours, generated many more answers to how the NHS can encourage the UK population to improve their lifestyle.

Facilitating their Policy Lab (from left: Anna Doyle, Sonali Nundoochan)

Whether it comes from watching the television, reading resources on NHS choices or searching social media, the idea of what it means to live healthily appeared to differ significantly between our attendees. We truly discovered this finding when we asked everyone in the room, ‘’ ‘What motivates healthy behaviours and why do people choose guilty pleasure?’

healthy behaviours…

Interestingly, our analysis found that when thinking about what healthy behaviours are, many participants naturally defaulted to thinking about what enhances their mental and emotional wellbeing. These included behaviours such as getting enough sleep and talking through problems. They also considered things which promote wellbeing and might be preventative such as thinking positive thoughts and spending time with friends. Food and eating habits were not mentioned during a discussion on positive healthy behaviours, yet when thinking about unhealthy behaviours most participants considered this to be eating foods perceived to be bad for us and drinking alcohol. This raises questions about our relationship with food and the negative feelings of guilt we may experience about eating “badly”, rather than positive feelings about eating to enhance wellbeing; It is noteworthy that in 2016, the dietitian Caroline Bowyer proposed nutritional advice that omitted labeling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in order to address guilt that may be felt by sufferers of eating disorders.

…guilty pleasures

When we discussed what the barriers and motivators are to adopting healthy behaviours and avoiding unhealthy ones, the diversity of opinion among the group really came to the forefront. There was debate over whether losing body fat for the purpose of an event or occasion was good for a person’s wellbeing or simply an unnecessary guilt trigger, which has been normalised by the media. This raised more questions;  Could it be that having a weight loss goal is both a barrier and a motivator for healthy living? Are particular superfoods good stimulants for our appetite or just wreaking havoc on our knowledge of what it means to eat well? And are apps truly an accessible way to reduce the effects of long term conditions? We could unveil the conclusions that our policy lab came to but that would just spoil the build-up to our much-anticipated solutions! So stay tuned with the Fifteen Years Forward blog, as each team gradually releases its answers!

Prep for the policy lab (from left: Nimra Shahid, Miranda Weston, Maria Carla Hartescu)

Written by Nimra Shahid, who is currently studying English Language and Linguistics at King’s College London. She joined the commission in May 2017 and is part of the healthy lifestyle subteam. Edited by social media team. 

Welcome to the NHS of the future!

We are the NHS Student Commission; a body of 18 students and slightly older recently graduated people (myself included), from a wonderfully diverse range of backgrounds, who have come together to talk about the NHS of the future. Some of us are healthcare students, some of us are law students, one of us was even brave enough to study chemistry! Nonetheless, we were all selected by Professor Anne Marie Rafferty, Professor Jonathan Grant and Dr. Saba Hinrichs-Krapels from the Policy Institute at King’s College London as a bit of an experiment. Our primary purpose is to contribute to an NHS redesign for delivering better health and social care. In our introductory session we were asked for creative, innovative solutions to problems that can be implemented to work on the next 15 to 20 years. So, here we are!

Negotiating their final themes (from left: Temitope Fisayo, Cristabel Nti, Abigail Burgess, Nimra Shahid)

But, what does all that actually mean?

Well first off we all love the NHS; we are the ‘next generation’, the ‘future workforce’ and I think someone, somewhere along the line, thought that we could come at this from a younger person’s view and basically come up with something amazing that no one else has thought of before us to fix the NHS!

Negotiation down to 3 themes (from left: Nimra Shahid, Temitope Fisayo, Miranda Weston, Adina Haffeez, Abigail Burgess)

No big deal then. So, how exactly are we going to do this?

First off we spent a long time learning about what policy analysis is; what it means, what it does, why it’s important and how it relates to the inherently political NHS. Then we split off into groups: there’s a workforce group, a healthy living group, and an innovation group. We also have an unconference team preparing a spectacular event in March and a tireless social media team working behind the scenes to bring you not only this blog but a fabulously engaging twitter page which you should definitely checkout and follow right now!

(from left: Jeevitha T Thurai Rathnam, Cristabel Nti)

(from left: Christopher Jacklin, Alexander Lee, Grace Pinn, Maria Carla Hartescu)

Story-boarding away (from left: Adina Haffeez, Cristabel Nti, Jonathan Grant, Synthia Enyioma)

We ran a series of policy labs in September, October and November (don’t worry if you don’t know what one of those are, neither did we really!). The workforce team was up first, and brought together some pretty amazing people to talk about the workforce in the NHS. Currently, there’s been lots of talk about the struggling front line staff, the stressful work, the lack of staff, and of course an over-reliance on agency staff to plug the gaps, so our question for the day is:

How can we make the NHS Workforce thrive in 15 years’ time?

The ‘Workforce’ group after they facilitated their first Policy Lab (from left: Temitope Fisayo, Nathiyaa Thevananth, Alexander Lee, Abigail Burgess, Haider Ali Sheikh, Rachel Ramnarine)

We’ve got lots of exciting things planned, including a rather mysterious craft session that you can see more of on twitter if you follow us. (@15yearsforward)

Thanks for reading, and I hope we’ve piqued your interest to read more about our endeavour to revolutionise the NHS!

Written by Abigail Burgess, a recent KCL graduate and one of the commissioners currently working on the student-led Health commission. Edited by the social media team.