Covid-19 proved that UK healthcare is not currently sustainable. In the context of growing global health vulnerability, and in the face of the health consequences of an ageing population, it is vital we identify and embed the lessons the pandemic teaches us about sustainability in the NHS.

While it might be comforting to think of Covid-19 as a ‘once in a lifetime’ disruption, the blunt reality is the pandemic was a predicted event. It’s a warning shot about the kind of disruption poor health could cause in the future. We need to be better prepared.

That’s why IPPR and Future Health Research are undertaking a joint call for evidence, to help us better understand how sustainability can be enhanced. We’re interested in understanding the practical actions the NHS can take to secure sustainability in the short-to-medium term.

In this call for evidence, our definition of sustainability follows previous international work:

"a health system’s ability to continually deliver the key health system functions of providing services, generating resources, financing and stewardship…in pursuit of its goals of improving population health"

That is, we think sustainability is about more than ensuring we have an NHS that can just about get through when health shocks happen. Rather, it’s about creating a system that can maintain high standards of access and quality through all the seasons, including crisis events.

In some instances, that will be about more money. But more money is not a strategy in and of itself. For example, more staff time cannot be bought and sold in any straightforward manner, and the learnings from significant budget rises in the early 2000s are that funding needs to come alongside transformation to be effective.

We believe there is exciting innovation and bold thinking out there, that can help put sustainability into practice. Bringing together your evidence, ideas, pilots and products is the first step to making that happen. We are welcoming responses from organisations and individuals until 18.00 on October 8th, 2021.

You can submit your evidence by submitting the form to or through the below link. For further information, please contact Chris Thomas or Richard Sloggett at

Online submission form