NHS England has launched it’s a new delivery plan on the next phase of the NHS Five Year Forward View implementation.
It has run into controversy however for seeking to relax the requirement on hospitals to treat 92% of elective surgery patients within 18 weeks.
Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England, said lowering the target was necessary so that hospitals can concentrate on more urgent priorities.
The Royal College of Surgeons of England however accused the NHS of “waving the white flag on the 18-week target”.
Two-and-a-half years on from the introduction of the NHS Five Year Forward View, the plan outlines the next steps in further integrating and improving care:
- Improved cancer care aimed at saving an extra 5,000 lives a year through new one-stop testing centres, screening programmes and state of the art radiotherapy machines.
- Boosting mental health services by increasing beds for children and young people to cut out of area care, more beds for new mothers and more mental health professionals in the community and hospitals to prevent crisis admissions.
- Better access to GP services with extended opening in the evenings and weekends, newly designated ‘Urgent Treatment Centres’ and an enhanced 111 service to ease pressure on A&Es.
- Better care for older people by bringing together services provided by GPs, hospitals, therapists, nurses and care staff, cutting emergency admissions and time spent in hospitals.
Stevens said the plan charted “a course for practical care improvements for the next few years. We do not underestimate the challenges but, get these right, and patients, staff and the tax-paying public will notice the benefits”.
President of the Royal College of Physicians Professor Jane Dacre said: “The focus on public health, to improve cancer care and ease the pressure on our A&Es is of course welcome, however in the past few years such demands have meant that the opportunity and ability to transform services to improve the care we provide for patients has become much harder to achieve.
“Our hospitals and NHS staff are only just coping and we cannot underestimate either the time or effort needed to make these fundamental changes. Now is the time for more investment and for the STP leaders to involve patients, healthcare staff and the wider public in designing services that meet the needs of patients today and in the future.”