45 episodes

Interviews with experts and high-profile guests discussing the most important issues affecting the future of health and care for people in the UK.

The Health Foundation podcast The Health Foundation

    • News

Interviews with experts and high-profile guests discussing the most important issues affecting the future of health and care for people in the UK.

    The general election and health: part 1 – with Sam Freedman and Paul Corrigan

    The general election and health: part 1 – with Sam Freedman and Paul Corrigan

    As the general election approaches, what are the main parties planning on health and will it make a difference?

    Polling day is rapidly approaching and all the main party manifestos have now been published. But when it comes to health and care, do we know what we’re voting for? Many commentators have expressed deep frustration at the opacity of the political debate – not just about the state we are in, but on the plans to get out of it.

    This matters because whoever wins the election faces a daunting series of challenges. Not least cratering public satisfaction with NHS services, an elective care waiting list standing at 7.6 million, rising levels of ill health among working-age people, and an economy growing too slowly to support the funding and investment public services will require.

    So what are the main parties promising on health, are their pledges in tune with the public mood, and are their plans equal to the scale of the challenges?  

    To discuss, our Chief Executive Jennifer Dixon is joined by:






    Sam Freedman, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Government and former Senior Policy Adviser to Michael Gove at the Department for Education. 

    Paul Corrigan, Management Consultant and former Special Adviser to Alan Milburn and Tony Blair under New Labour. Paul is currently advising the Labour Party on health policy.


    Show notes

    The Health Foundation (2024). General election 2024 collection. 

    The Health Foundation (2024). What's in the party manifestos on health and care?

    The Health Foundation (2024). Do the manifestos cut it on health?

    Institute For Government (2023). The NHS productivity puzzle: Why has hospital activity not increased in line with funding and staffing?

    Institute For Government and CIPFA (2023). Performance Tracker 2023: Hospitals. 

    Timmins, N (2021). The Health Foundation. The most expensive breakfast in history: revisiting the Wanless review 20 years on. The Health Foundation. 

    • 36 min
    Sure Start: a model for long-term policymaking? – with Naomi Eisenstadt and Donna Molloy

    Sure Start: a model for long-term policymaking? – with Naomi Eisenstadt and Donna Molloy

    More long-term, mission-led policymaking is sorely needed, but how best to do it?


    The Sure Start programme was set up with the aim of giving young children the best possible start in life, narrowing gaps in outcomes for disadvantaged children. First announced by the New Labour government in 1998, it has evolved regularly over the past two decades. Recent evaluations have found early versions of Sure Start delivered positive impacts for children – supporting improved educational attainment, employment outcomes and long-term health.   

    So what lessons does Sure Start hold for long-term policymaking? How can national policymakers drive long-term change in social outcomes, what pitfalls need to be avoided, and where should any new government be looking if they want to improve children’s lives and health today? 


    To discuss, our Chief Executive Jennifer Dixon is joined by:




    Naomi Eisenstadt, former director for Sure Start and current Chair of Northamptonshire integrated care board (ICB).

    Donna Molloy, Deputy Chief Executive at Foundations – What Works Centre for Children & Families.


    Show notes

    IFS (2021). The health impacts of Sure Start. 

    IFS (2024). The short- and medium-term impacts of Sure Start on educational outcomes. 

    Eisenstadt (2022). Sure Start Review, The Therapeutic Journal. 

    The Health Foundation (2024). Sure Start shows that to improve health, governments must keep the faith (blog). 

    Molloy & Asmussen (2021). Worth the wait: new evaluation data shows positive impacts of Family Nurse Partnership, EIF/WWCSC

    Hadley et al (2016). Implementing the UK's teenage pregnancy strategy for England. Reproductive Health. 

    • 33 min
    Limp NHS productivity and what to do about it – with Anita Charlesworth and Neil Sebire

    Limp NHS productivity and what to do about it – with Anita Charlesworth and Neil Sebire

    Improving NHS productivity is a key national priority. But what’s behind the slowdown and can it be reversed? 

    Over the past few years, amid the turmoil of COVID-19, the NHS has seen substantial growth in funding and clinical staffing levels. Yet the numbers of patients treated haven’t risen in step – suggesting services, particularly NHS acute hospitals, have become less productive. 

    Government has announced a wide-ranging review of public sector productivity and asked services to develop plans to recover productivity performance. At the Spring Budget 2024, £3.4bn in capital funding was announced to support digital and technology projects intended to boost NHS productivity. 

    So why have activity levels not been keeping pace with recent increases in NHS funding and staffing, what can be done, and is implementing new technologies a solution worth banking on? 

    To discuss, our Chief Executive Jennifer Dixon is joined by:





    Anita Charlesworth, Chief Economist and Director of the REAL Centre at the Health Foundation.
    Neil Sebire, Professor of Pathology and Chief Research Information Officer at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust. 


    Show notes

    Institute for Government (2023). The NHS productivity puzzle. 

    Institute for Fiscal Studies (2023). Is there really an NHS productivity crisis? 

    Health Foundation (2023). The unsustainable is not sustained: why productivity is fundamental to the future of the NHS. 

    Bennett Institute (2021). Productivity in UK healthcare during and after COVID-19 pandemic.

    Chancellor’s speech on productivity growth (2023). 

    Centre for Health Economics (2024). Productivity of the English National Health Service: 2021/22 update. 

    • 32 min
    Our health: is it the economy, stupid? – with Torsten Bell and Diane Coyle

    Our health: is it the economy, stupid? – with Torsten Bell and Diane Coyle

    What's happened to our economy and what does it mean for our health?

    Many developed economies have been growing more slowly since around 2008, but the UK economy has been struggling more than most. Wages haven't risen since 2008 leaving the average worker £14,000 worse off. Productivity growth – vital to rising living standards – has stalled. Regional inequalities are unusually large, and economic hardship is widespread with 2.8 million people reporting not working because of long-term sickness.

    So what’s driving this economic stagnation, how is it connected to our health, and what can politicians do to address the challenges?

    To discuss, our Chief Executive Jennifer Dixon is joined by:






    Diane Coyle, Bennett Professor of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge and Co-Director of the Bennett Institute.

    Torsten Bell, Chief Executive of the Resolution Foundation.



    Show notes

    The Health Foundation (2023). The unsustainable is not sustained: why productivity is fundamental to the future of the NHS. 

    The Resolution Foundation (2023). Ending stagnation: a new economic strategy for Britain. 

    The Health Foundation (2023). What we know about the UK’s working-age health challenge.

    Coyle D and Muhtar A (2022). Contemporary Social Science. Levelling up policies and the failure to learn.

    Bennett Institute for Public Policy (2023). A Universal Basic Infrastructure for the UK. 

    The Resolution Foundation (2024) (funded by the Health Foundation). We’ve only just begun: action to improve young people’s mental health, education and employment.

    • 32 min
    Two commissions on the future of the NHS – with Rachel Sylvester and Parveen Kumar

    Two commissions on the future of the NHS – with Rachel Sylvester and Parveen Kumar

    Given the huge pressures on the NHS it's perhaps inevitable people ask, what's the future of it?

    The NHS and social care are struggling to deliver care and support to people who need it. With services so stretched, waiting times at record highs, public satisfaction falling and a demoralised workforce, is now the time to ask some fundamental questions about the NHS?

    In the past month, two independent commissions on the future of the NHS have reported – the Times Commission in early February, and the first of several papers from the BMJ Commission at the end of January.

    We speak to the commission chairs about what they found out and what they’d like to see future governments prioritise on health. And given the tight squeeze on public funds, what will it take to truly put the NHS on a sustainable footing?

    To discuss, our Chief Executive Jennifer Dixon is joined by:





    Rachel Sylvester, political columnist at The Times, and chair of the Times Health Commission.
    Parveen Kumar, Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Education at Queen Mary, University of London, and co-chair of the BMJ Commission on the Future of the NHS. 

    • 35 min
    Why aren't we working? – with Sacha Romanovitch and Oliver Coppard

    Why aren't we working? – with Sacha Romanovitch and Oliver Coppard

    About a fifth of us of working age – just under 9 million people in the UK – are not looking for or are not able to work. Recently the biggest growth has been among those reporting long-term illness, now at a record high of around 2.7 million.

    This decline in working-age health is causing concern among employers, politicians and policymakers. Earlier this month the Health Foundation launched an independent Commission for Healthier Working Lives to build consensus around the kind of action needed. So what’s going on, and what do the solutions look like both at a local and national level? 

    To discuss, our Chief Executive Jennifer Dixon is joined by:






    Sacha Romanovitch, Chief Executive of Fair4All Finance. Sacha is a member of the government’s levelling up Advisory Council, and Chair of the Commission for Healthier Working Lives, which is supported by the Health Foundation.

    Oliver Coppard, Mayor of South Yorkshire. Oliver was elected as the Labour Co-op mayoral candidate in May 2022. Oliver sits on a commission led by Alan Milburn, former Secretary of State for Health, investigating economic activity in Barnsley. 

    • 37 min

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