Our advice on the NHS objectives for 2020-21

Each year, we share with Government the issues we believe should be included in the objectives for the NHS for the year ahead. Read our advice and find out how the NHS Mandate this has been affected by COVID-19.
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What is the NHS Mandate?

At the start of each financial year, the Government updates the objectives for the NHS for the year ahead. As part of the process of setting these objectives, Healthwatch England uses the views that people have shared with us to recommend changes that will benefit people.

The Government has now published the NHS Mandate.

Find out more

What’s the impact of COVID-19 on the objectives for the NHS?

With the UK facing the unprecedented challenge of managing the threat of COVID-19, the Government has published a very brief mandate for 2020-21. This will be updated once the COVID-19 once the crisis has passed.

The Government has set five objectives but said that the first must be the priority, which is to:

Support the Government to delay and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and to contribute to research and innovation in prevention and treatment, whilst ensuring that everyone affected by it receives the very best possible NHS treatment;
— The Government's 2020-2021 mandate to NHS England and NHS Improvement

In our advice to Government on the objectives the NHS should focus on, our Chair Sir Robert Francis QC supported the need to focus on the response to COVID-19, acknowledging that it was

“sensible that Government is not setting expectations regarding the amount of progress against any other Mandate objectives for 2020-21”.

At the start of the outbreak, Healthwatch England also issued COVID-19 guidance to local Healthwatch emphasising the need to:

  • help stop the spread of the virus,
  • provide advice and information to the public and sharing evidence with services that relate to the safety of people,
  • refocus any spare towards the community effort to support those affected by COVID-19

Supporting the local fight against COVID-19

Healthwatch services across England are playing a role in getting accurate and up-to-date information out to people as well as mobilising volunteers to support local action helping people who are self-isolating or vulnerable.

For example, in Bracknell Forest in just two weeks the local Healthwatch service teamed up with local organisations and the council to set up an advice helpline and recruit over 1,500 volunteers to support people affected by COVID-19.

Find out more

What will happen next?

The Government have said it intends to update the objectives of the NHS with a further mandate that takes account of the NHS's capacity to achieve wider goals once the virus has been effectively managed.

We’ll respond more fully once this updated mandate has been published.


Advisory letter to Minister of State for Health
Our submission to the NHS Mandate 2020-2021
Letter from Edward Argar MP, Minister of State for Health

Talk to your local Healthwatch

You can help make health and care services better by sharing your experiences and ideas. Talk to your local Healthwatch.

Find your nearest Healthwatch