This week the NHS held its annual NHS Confederation Conference in Liverpool, providing an opportunity for the NHS to set out its stall for the next five years. With clear endorsement from the new Conservative Government for the NHS Five Year Forward View (FYFV), all eyes were on Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, as he set out his stall.
The clear message he gave was that the FYFV enables the NHS to 'chart its own destiny' for the first time in its history. He noted that, for the first time, there is a consensus on what needs to be done across the whole service, including support from the public who have made it abundantly clear that maintaining the NHS is important to them. However, he emphasised the danger of focusing on the future without squaring up to today's pressures, and that collective action is needed now.1
Indeed he identified four priority areas:
Action on deficits - putting the NHS on a sustainable financial footing. No extra money this year so one of things have to get right is to have honest talks and collective action around capacity planning. It also requires a focus on reducing spend on temporary staffing, including using the collective purchasing power of the NHS underpinned by realistic workforce plans. At the same time recognising that commitment of at least £8 billion additional real term funding by 2020 leaves a predicted funding gap of £22 billion requiring efficiencies and increased productivity, a reduction in clinical variation and a more mature approach to utilising the NHS's collective purchasing power. Redesigning care by embracing a triple integration which ends the demarcation of physical and mental health while combining health and social care and blurring the boundaries between primary and specialist care. Something already begun by the recently announced vanguard sites and which also requires more networked solutions for small and medium hospitals. NHS leaders being encouraged to use their authority to back the new public health agenda and in particular to support health and wellbeing through prevention. With a particular emphasis on tackling obesity and targeting reductions in Type 2 diabetes to try and reduce the prospect that otherwise a wave of avoidable illness will engulf the NHS unless action is taken now. New ways of working both locally and nationally and the need for a change in the public conversation about health; requiring a redesign of how the healthcare system works...