The leaders of the national health and care bodies in England have set out steps to help local organisations plan over the next six years to deliver a sustainable, transformed health service and to improve quality of care, wellbeing and NHS finances.
Called Delivering the Forward View, the NHS planning guidance for 2016/17 – 2020/21 is backed up by £560 billion of NHS funding which was confirmed last week. This includes the introduction of a new, dedicated Sustainability and Transformation Fund worth £2.1 billion in 2016/17 and rising to £3.4 billion in 2020/21. This fund will help to get hospitals back on their feet, support the delivery of the Five Year Forward View, and enable new investment for critical priorities such as primary care, mental health and cancer services.
The planning guidance outlines a new approach to help ensure that health and care services are planned by place rather than around individual institutions.
As in previous years, NHS organisations will be required to produce individual operational plans for 2016/17. In addition, every health and care system will be required, for the first time, to work together to produce a Sustainability and Transformation Plan, a separate but connected strategic plan covering the period October 2016 to March 2021.
As part of this, local leaders will be required to set out clear plans to pursue the ‘triple aim’ set out in the NHS Five Year Forward View – improved health and wellbeing, transformed quality of care delivery, and sustainable finances.
The guidance also outlines nine ‘must dos’ for every local area in England in 2016/17, agreed by the leading health bodies in England. These include:
- returning the system to financial balance
- introducing a local plan to address the sustainability and quality of general practice
- reducing waiting times for A&E, cancer and mental health
- improving quality – particularly for organisations in special measures.
The guidance is supported by the proposal, currently under consultation from Monitor and NHS England, that hospital trusts make annual efficiency savings of 2%. This is lower than the 4% originally envisaged, in reflection of rising costs.
Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said: “This guidance sets out the next steps to make the vision set out in the Five Year Forward View a reality. A new approach to how local NHS leaders plan to meet health needs across whole areas will sit alongside the new Sustainability and Transformation Fund established as part of our £560 billion funding plan for the NHS.
Together they will help to ensure the NHS has solid financial foundations from next year, and to transform how care is delivered up to 2021.”
Jim Mackey, Chief Executive Designate of NHS Improvement, said: “We all know how big the financial challenge that we’re facing is and the next year will be absolutely critical as the NHS gets a grip of the situation.
“Now is the time to stabilise hospital performance and finances so we can give the NHS a firm footing to make the necessary improvements. This stability and £1.8 billion of funding in the Sustainability and Transformation Fund will help providers be more positive about improving performance, particularly in A&E, and balancing the books as they plan for the future.
“We also need to look seriously at what can be done to realise the long-term improvements needed at a local level and to get on with making changes happen so that patients can rely on strong and sustainable services.”