'Health care can't be left to the professionals': Steve Chalke issues challenge to NHS

Wed 18 Jul 2018
By Marcus Jones

Steve Chalke, the church leader and founder of the charity Oasis, has urged health care bosses to rethink the way they run the NHS as it marks its 70th anniversary.

Delivering a keynote speech in London to senior NHS leaders from across the country, Chalke talked about how his charity has evolved to now serving tens of thousands through schools and community projects and how he was keen to share the lessons its learnt.

He said current problems within the NHS show it had become the victim of its own "extraordinary success".


Addressing the needs of the population, he said health care shouldn't just be the responsibility of doctors and nurses.

"Rather than the services of the NHS, the vast majority of the factors that define our health are down to the work of everyone from local councils to charities, schools to churches and other faith groups and businesses to individual residents.

"Our problem is that we have medicalised health care, focusing our thinking, energy and funding too narrowly.

"What we call the National Health Service would be better labelled a National Sickness Service. It's time to think differently and invest in the other pillars on which real health and wellbeing are built."


Chalke went on to talk about what his charity had learnt over some 30 years of community work. Its most recent development has seen it partner with Frimley Leadership and Improvement Academy - part of the Frimley NHS Trust - as it works to deliver an Integrated Care System for its community.

"We've learned that real transformation is fuelled by truly empowering individuals and whole communities to become change makers themselves," he said.

"Disadvantage and inequality will not be addressed until our society moves away from traditional models of project delivery, where experts do things 'to' or 'for' people, towards one of grass roots empowerment where everyone works together.

"Health care can't be left to the professionals; it is far too important for that. The volunteer - or use their other name 'amateur' - which as all French speakers know comes from the word meaning 'lover of' - has a key role to play in any effective integrated health service of the future."

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