The head of NHS England today (Wednesday) issued a clarion call to health care leaders to redesign the care of patients across the NHS so that it is sustainable for the future and better able to meet the needs of patients.
Speaking to delegates at the NHS Annual Conference in Liverpool, Simon Stevens set out three priorities: putting the NHS on a financially sustainable footing, redesigning care, and getting serious about prevention.
He said: “The Five Year Forward View successfully articulated the national consensus on how the NHS needs to change, but now healthcare leaders need to move from ‘compass’ to practical ‘route maps’ for action.”
“This is not all about the money. It is all about the kind of healthcare system we want. We need to fundamentally redesign care.”
On urgent care, he said: “We need to redesign the way our urgent care system works. The current system is confusing the public. We have to do a better job of joining it up. We need to simplify the urgent care spaghetti so we can manage the demands being placed on us.”
On learning disabilities’ he said: “We have not finished the job. We need a closure programme for long stay institutions, with more power in the hands of families.”
On prevention, Mr Stevens said: “I make no apology for being lippy on this topic. NHS leaders should feel empowered to make the case for change to their communities and elected representatives.”
He urged NHS leaders to: “Rattle the cage and advocate something different.”
“We need to get a big national conversation going about the role of schools, hospitals, local authorities and central government.”
He concluded: “Time is not on our side but it is change for a purpose, a high purpose, and we have 54 million people with us.”
On specific measures, Mr Stevens:
- Issued a call for parts of the country to step forward to be urgent care vanguards, testing new approaches to delivering urgent care that aim to improve the coordination of services and reduce pressure on A&E departments. Some five million people are expected to be covered by the initial phase of the scheme which could be rolled out across England in the next couple of years. As with the wider vanguard programme, NHS England will work with the vanguard sites to develop new approaches, helping them identify opportunities and to tackle barriers to make it easier for change to happen faster.
- Announced three parts of the country that have been selected to form the new Success Regimes in England as North Cumbria and North, Essex, East and West Devon. The aim is to improve care and sustainability of services for patients. The three areas are facing some of the most significant challenges in England. They will begin work to make improvements this summer and further areas may enter at a later point.
- Set out the five ‘fast track’ sites that will receive extra support to transform services for people with learning disability and/or autism and challenging behaviour or a mental health condition. They are: Greater Manchester and Lancashire; Cumbria and the North East; Arden, Herefordshire and Worcestershire; Nottinghamshire; Hertfordshire. The transformation will be about improving lives by closing inpatient beds and strengthening services in the community. The five areas will receive extra technical support from NHS England to draw up transformation plans over the summer, and will be able to access a £10 million transformation fund to kick-start implementation from autumn 2015.
- Shared details of a joint proposal from the arm’s length bodies for an engagement programme to get out and speak to leaders across the NHS in England about how they are going to make practical changes in their areas and tackle any challenges in order to ensure they continue to drive through the Five Year Forward View.