NHS England chair Sir Malcolm Grant hailed the NLA’s new ‘Knowledge Capital’ exhibition as a ‘fabulous’ and ‘stunning’ physical manifestation of what his organisation is doing structurally and conceptually through the universities and healthcare system as he opened the show last night.
Grant said that the exhibition, which examines the development of new spaces and places for the knowledge economy in London and the wider south east, demonstrated ‘exactly why London stands so proud as a major centre of higher education and health’.
Grant was preceded first by NLA chairman Peter Murray, who pointed to the show’s accompanying catalogue as a great example of the high quality of buildings being delivered to service this important sector of the London economy, and then, unusually, by a robot called Pepper supplied by Robots of London, serving to illustrate the changing roles of automation across many industries.
‘What a fantastic exhibition this is’, said Grant. ‘It goes to everything we should all believe about the potential of London. Look across the map and model and you start to get a real impression where health and higher education and research intersect across this city. And it is not accidental.’
Grant made two main propositions on the future of healthcare. The first was that it is primarily driven by research, with the best outcomes from clinicians with ‘inquisitive minds’, empowered by new technologies. It took 40 years and £2bn, for example, to get from the discovery of the helical structure of DNA through to the time the first human genome was fully sequenced in 2001. ‘Nowadays we can do it in a day’, said Grant, and it was being used to ‘uncover the mysteries’ of rare diseases. Partnership working as exemplified at the Crick Institute was key to working on issues relating to the molecular nature of cancer, Grant added, and London was a leader, along with its two ‘outlying suburbs’, Oxford and Cambridge.
But the second proposition was more systemic. ‘The way we deliver care has got to change fundamentally’, said Grant, with a shift to prevention rather than ‘fix and repair’ and the promotion of healthy cities, early detection and early intervention. Hospitals, after all, are ‘dangerous places’, said Grant, so more needs to be done on the shift – which he estimated was 20% through already – towards a more integrated model of healthcare. ‘We are bringing care out of hospitals into primary care, out of primary care into the community, trying to draw together physical ill health with mental health, which has been a very seriously neglected area both of treatment and of science over the last decades, and of course combining healthcare with social care’, he said. ‘The more we can join up those attributes of care, the more we can make for a more pleasant and a healthier and a longer life for our citizens, and also reduce the very heavy costs of intervening when it’s too late.’
By David Taylor, Editor, NLQ