At the start of each financial year, the Government updates the objectives for the NHS for the next 12 months. To help set these objectives, we use the views you have shared with us to recommend changes that will help improve standards of care.
The Government has now published its priorities for the NHS.
What did we say?
The NHS faces many challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and these problems, like long waiting times for care, will take time to fix.
However, the NHS also has an opportunity to provide better care in the future because of the changes it is making and extra funding it has received. The Health and Social Care Bill currently going through Parliament aims to improve the planning of health and social care services and how services work together to provide care.
Using the views we have gathered from the public across England, we advised Government to include nine issues in its objectives for the NHS.
- Tackle waiting times: Make sure the NHS delivers its plan for tackling the backlog of care, including improving communications and support for patients while they are waiting. However, the NHS also needs to maintain the quality care and service levels in other areas like emergency care.
- Review access to GP services: With the way people access GPs having changed during COVID-19, NHS England should review access to GP services to make sure they work for everyone.
- Reforming NHS Dentistry: Set a clear objective around resolving the long-standing issues of dental system reform and build on the extra funding for NHS dentistry that NHS England recently announced. Both steps will help tackle the people's problems accessing affordable NHS dental treatment.
- Making care information accessible: With many people, such as individuals with a visual impairment, unable to get health care information in a format that is suitable for them, the NHS should implement the recommendations of its review of the Accessible Information Standard. These recommendations include making services more accountable for delivering people's rights to accessible information and improving the NHS's IT system.
- Improving hospital discharge: The NHS should ensure that services implement the updated guidance on being discharged from a hospital. Extra resources for this work should be prioritised until the reforms, like the introduction of Integrated Care Systems, are bedded in.
- Making patient data more transparent: The objectives should set expectations for the NHS to increase transparency about using patient data. If the General Practice Data for Planning and Research programme, which uses anonymised GP patient data to support health research, is relaunched, it must be effectively communicated to the public.
- Understanding the impact of NHS111 First: The NHS should finish and publish the full evaluation of the NHS111 First service. The service enables people to avoid waiting in hospitals for urgent care.
- Tackling health inequalities: The introduction of Integrated Care Systems provides an opportunity to tackle health inequalities when planning care. For this to happen, the voice of patients, especially those whose needs are overlooked, needs to be represented in the decision making bodies.
- Learning from complaints: With NHS reforms also changing the complaints landscape, NHS leaders should use the opportunity to design a national system to help NHS learn from complaints about care.