Simon Stevens today stressed the importance of frontline nursing in the community as the NHS moves into a new era.
Speaking at the Queen’s Nursing Institute annual conference in London, NHS England’s Chief Executive called on nurses to demonstrate their innovation and leadership as part of the way to solve many of the challenges facing the NHS.
He told around 300 delegates: “Care in the community is part of the essential fabric to what the NHS does.
“We have an innovative group of health care professionals who are up for change. We need new ideas and, to that end, we are today launching the NHS Innovation Awards with a total of £650,000prize money to give away for the best ideas that will make a difference to what we offer.
“There is a lot if inventiveness in the front line of the NHS and I ask you to take part in the Innovation Awards.”
He stressed to delegates: “Ultimately the success or failure, the improvement or not of NHS services to patients, will be as a result of the leadership that all of you will be able to exhibit. And, in that, I am highly optimistic.”
Stevens outlined the challenges, saying: “Times are tight and in many parts of the health service where you work it seems an uphill struggle.
“I want to talk about where care for people in the community and their own homes needs to go.
“There is a broader web of care that sits outside of the inpatient setting which we need to get right over the next five years.
“Urgent and emergency care is where the system is completely out of balance. There has been a 124 per cent increase over the last 15 years of patients being admitted as emergencies and staying less than two days. That is a signal that people are not getting the care they need in the community or at home.
“You may not be surprised at the increased pressure on urgent care considering we have a growing and ageing population. But age counts for just seven per cent of the increase.”
He added: “Part of what we have to do is remove the fragmentation and put parts of the service together so we don’t have people ending up in the wrong place or being pushed from pillar to post.
“We also have huge pressures on primary care – predominantly, but not solely, on GP services.
“People used to have to wait 18 months for non-urgent operations but the NHS rightly invested and brought that down to 18weeks or less for some types of surgery. But because some conditions are not fundamentally dangerous does not mean patients should have to wait
“We have to reinvent the way primary and community care services are working together.
“Mental health services have been the poor relation in the NHS – much if it due to there being no targets in place.
“We will begin to address that in April by introducing for the first time standards and targets for key mental health services.
“We are doing similar work on dementia and this will require an enormous effort on behalf of all of us over the next eight months, particularly in care homes.”