Our annual Nuffield Trust Summit, now in its thirteenth year, is going online! In 2021, the Summit will take place as a series of virtual events over two weeks from the 9th to 18th March.

An indispensable part of the health policy calendar, the Summit attracts policymakers, senior managers, clinicians, politicians, journalists, international experts and more to reflect on the most pressing issues facing health and social care. After one of the most difficult years in the health service’s lifetime and with the disruptions arising from Covid-19 likely to remain with us for years to come, this year the Summit turns to focus on three broad themes:

  • How does evidence and science inform policy making – and what lessons can be learned from the pandemic and beyond to inform future health policy?
  • Will health services require restoration or revolution following the pandemic – and what can we learn from other historic shifts in service delivery in the wake of disaster?
  • How is the tension between centralisation and localisation managed in the health service and elsewhere – and is the drive for centralisation a uniquely British phenomenon?

The event page will be updated with further information and useful resources over the coming weeks. Make sure you are registered for the event to attend these fascinating sessions and gain delegate access to further resources.

We hope you enjoy the Summit Series!

With thanks to our sponsors:

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Please note programme timings are subject to change.

Downloadfull programme

18 March — full schedule

MSD Roundtable Cancer and Covid-19: problems and solutions

Nigel Edwards — Chief Executive, Nuffield Trust

David Long — Business Unit Director, Oncology, MSD

9 March — full schedule

Evidence and science in policy-making

Evidence and science: at the backbone of health policy?

Nigel Edwards — Chief Executive, Nuffield Trust

Prof Martin McKee — Professor of European Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Dame Una O'Brien — Former Permanent Secretary, Department of Health

The Covid-19 pandemic has thrust the sometimes-awkward relationship between evidence and policymaking into the spotlight. While the government has claimed it has been ‘led by the science’, some of its representatives have a chequered relationship with expertise. 

This session starts with a long view about evidence in policymaking and how the views of experts have been used to inform decision making. 

The panel will then reflect on the lessons that might be drawn from the management of the pandemic and history more generally, and discuss what the future holds for the role of evidence and science in policymaking.

10 March — full schedule

Evidence and science in policy-making

Guided by the evidence – informing future health policy

Kenneth Cukier (Chair) — Senior Editor, The Economist

Prof Ashish Jha — Dean of the School of Public Health, Professor of Health Services, Policy, and Practice, Brown University

Dr Alexandra Freeman — Executive Director, Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, University of Cambridge

Nigel Edwards — Chief Executive, Nuffield Trust

Despite a commitment to evidence forming a central pillar of the UK government’s Covid-19 response, our health service has nonetheless faced overwhelm; tens of thousands of lives have been lost; and the path to recovery in health care looks fraught. 

What’s more, long-standing problems like workforce shortages, a disconnect between health and social care and continued funding shortages threaten to undermine attempts to return health services to anything like ‘business as usual’. 

What lessons can we learn from the Covid-19 response to inform future health care policy? 

How has the role and status of experts been important in this process? And how big a threat to future health care engagement is the presence and spread of misinformation?

11 March — full schedule

BMJ session - Media Partner - INVITE ONLY

What should "following the science" mean for government policy?

Kamran Abbasi — Executive Editor, BMJ

16 March AM — full schedule

Recovery or revolution?

In the wake of disaster - historic shifts in UK health care

Helen Buckingham (Chair) — Director of Strategy , Nuffield Trust

Prof Abigail Woods — Pro Vice Chancellor/Head of College Arts, University of Lincoln

Throughout history, pivotal events like wars and epidemics have led to significant changes in the way services are delivered and societies operate. 

This session will look at how significant events can lead to major shifts in social expectations and the way public services are delivered.

16 March PM — full schedule

Recovery or revolution?

Covid-19 - a catalyst for health care revolution?

Richard Humphries (Chair) — Senior Policy Advisor, Health Foundation

Prof Partha Kar — National Speciality Advisor, Diabetes, NHS England and co-lead Diabetes GIRFT, NHS Improvement

Dr Hannah Barham-Brown — Deputy Leader, Women’s Equality Party BMA Council member and Disability Campaigner

Adam Lent — Chief Executive, New Local

Achieving change in the delivery of public services can feel tortuous. The NHS has expressed an ambition to deliver ‘integrated care’ for decades. Proposals for reorganising health care services tend to iterate through consultation after consultation; innovators regularly complain that they struggle to get new technology adopted; and outdated working practices can persist for years. Yet Covid-19 has shown us that in a crisis, change can also happen overnight. Public services may seem to achieve in a moment what would normally take months, if not years. 

This session will explore how individuals and organisations can harness opportunities to drive change, and the roles that clinicians, patients and wider civil society can play in catalysing change and removing barriers.

17 March — full schedule

Central versus local dilemma

The tension between central and local governance: is the NHS an outlier?

Nigel Edwards — Chief Executive, Nuffield Trust

Professor Scott Greer — Professor Health Management and Policy, School of Public Health,, University of Michigan

Sarah Pickup — Deputy CEO, LGA

Rob Sergeant — CEO, Optum UK

Dr Layla McCay — Director of Policy, NHS Confederation

Many elements of the English health care system have been copied worldwide, but its highly centralised and politicised structure is not commonly replicated. Some argue these characteristics leave the UK slow to respond to crises like pandemics, with local public health knowledge left untapped for creating a vital test and trace system that arguably remains of limited effect almost a year on. Where the NHS has responded well, it appears to have been associated with greater devolution of decision-making. But this also presents its own problems – and countries with a proven track record of decentralisation have found it increasingly hard to make important policy decisions quickly and consistently. 

Can lessons be learned from the pandemic that teach us about effective governance in more normal times? 

Could new health legislation change things for the better? 

And what can the military and local government teach us about how to manage central versus local dilemmas?


Please check back for registration information.