The NHS Commissioning Board should run a series of large scale “experiments” designed to test solutions to the growing burden of chronic disease, UnitedHealth’s president of global health Simon Stevens claimed this week. Successful programmes should be made “part of the NHS benefits package”.

Mr Stevens was formerly senior health adviser to Tony Blair, a role which saw him author many of new labour’s health reforms. He was speaking in London, on the day after David Cameron suggested he would deliver on those reforms which had been blocked “by vested interests”.

The former Number 10 aide had been invited to speak by health think tank Collaborating for Health on what the NHS could learn from the US and other countries in the area of chronic disease management.

Mr Stevens covered a range of interventions which had the potential to help health services manage chronic disease. These included aligning financial incentives for providers, making greater use of new technology “nudging” people towards healthier behaviour and developing specialist groups of medics within the community.

He told the C3 seminar: “The commissioning board needs to make it as easy as possible for GP consortia to take some of these ideas off the shelf. If each GP consortium has got to try and reinvent the wheel [themselves] it won’t happen.

“The commissioning board should run a series of large scale experiments to see what works and then should consider being relatively prescriptive around that becoming part of the NHS benefits package that a GP consortium is expected to deliver as part of its licence to commission.”