Part of our role is to recommend changes to health and social care services that we know will benefit people. Every year the Government reviews and updates a number of key objectives it thinks the NHS should focus on.
We are a statutory consultee on the NHS Mandate, which means the Department of Health has to ask us what should be included.
People across the country have told us how care and support can be improved. Using these views, we have suggested six areas that the NHS should focus on to make health and social care better.
1. Improving public involvement in changes to local services
Health and social care services are going through major changes to help make them more efficient and better at delivering tailored support. It’s important that the Government and NHS England strongly encourage those who run services to involve communities, and help them to play an integral role in shaping the future of health and care.
2. Using people’s experiences of leaving hospital as a way of measuring how well services are working together
In last year’s Mandate the Government introduced a new target to reduce the number of patients delayed leaving hospital. This was an important step, however, more needs to be done to understand whether people are receiving the necessary care and support when they leave hospital to help manage conditions and stay well.
3. Demonstrating how learning from feedback is improving care
There has been significant progress to how the NHS learns from people’s complaints. However, there is still much to do so that people can see how their feedback has made a difference and has helped to change the way services are delivered.
4. Increasing focus on the evaluation of mental health services
Although positive steps have been taken to improve mental health services, people tell us they haven’t yet seen the impact of reforms. There should be a greater focus on understanding how people are affected by these changes. We would also like to see physical health services improve the way they meet people’s health and wellbeing needs.
5. Shifting the focus of NHS targets to take greater account of people's experiences
NHS targets can be a useful way for services to track performance. However, current targets are not always sensitive to the experiences of people and what they need from care. Listening to what people say about the care they receive will give a more accurate understanding of how services are performing, especially in high pressure areas, such as A&E and waiting times for surgery.
6. Tackling access issues in NHS dentistry
We have heard that in some parts of the country people have real trouble accessing an NHS dentist. There are also gaps in provision for particular groups, such as people in care homes. More needs to be done to address this issue.