The Patients Association welcomes the ‘Next Steps on the NHS Five Year Forward View’, and will work with NHS England to help ensure it is delivered successfully and engages with patients nationally and locally. This is essential both to ensure that the importance of change is understood by everyone, and to get input from patients about how new and re-designed services can meet their needs.
To that end, we support the creation of Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships and Accountable Care Systems, and the proposed use of Healthwatch’s five steps to ensure local people have their say. It is also clear that the new organisations will have new accountability structures, and that these will vary considerably – this is only right, so long as increased variety does not equate to increased opacity.
We are also pleased to see a prominent goal to improve patient safety, and that preventing healthcare-acquired infections is the top priority within this. The new quarterly data publications about deaths likely to have been caused by problems in care should also be very helpful.
Next Steps also rightly acknowledges that there remains considerable risk to the delivery of the Five Year Forward View, not least from the NHS’s strained financial position. The recent record is one of the NHS falling short of the financial improvements it has aimed for, so we hope this document’s optimism is borne out and that substantial improvements can indeed be made within the current funding envelope.
We call on decision-makers nationally and locally to support this process, to ensure that NHS services work well for patients now and in the future.