Balancing the books, reducing waiting times and new plans for a sustainable general practice are among nine ‘must-do’ targets set out in NHS guidance for the next six years.
Published jointly by the leading national health and care bodies in England, Delivering the Forward View sets out "steps to help local organisations plan over the next six years to deliver a sustainable, transformed health service and to improve quality of care, wellbeing and NHS finances."
The plan, which covers the period from 2016/17 to 2020/21, is backed by £560 billion of NHS funding. This includes a new, dedicated Sustainability and Transformation Fund worth £2.1 billion in 2016/17 and rising to £3.4 billion in 2020/21 to "help get hospitals back on their feet, support the delivery of the Five Year Forward View, and enable new investment for critical priorities such as primary care, mental health and cancer services."
The guidance outlines a new approach to help ensure that health and care services are planned by place rather than around individual institutions.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: "This guidance sets out the next steps to make the vision set out in the Five Year Forward View a reality. A new approach to how local NHS leaders plan to meet health needs across whole areas will sit alongside the new Sustainability and Transformation Fund. Together they will help to ensure the NHS has solid financial foundations from next year, and to transform how care is delivered up to 2021."
Jim Mackey, chief executive designate of NHS Improvement, said: "Now is the time to stabilise hospital performance and finances so we can give the NHS a firm footing."
As in previous years, NHS organisations must produce individual operational plans for 2016/17, while every health and care system must, for the first time, work together to produce a separate Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) to cover October 2016 to March 2021.
The nine ‘must do’ targets for 2016/17 are:
1. Develop a high quality and agreed STP
2. Return the system to aggregate financial balance.
3. Develop and implement a local plan to address the sustainability and quality of general practice, including workforce and workload issues.
4. Get back on track with access standards for A&E and ambulance waits
5. Improvement against and maintenance of the NHS Constitution standards that more than 92 percent of patients on non-emergency pathways wait no more than 18 weeks from referral to treatment, including offering patient choice.
6. Deliver the NHS Constitution 62-day cancer waiting standard, including by securing adequate diagnostic capacity; continue to deliver the constitutional two-week and 31-day cancer standards and make progress in improving one-year survival rates by delivering a year-on-year improvement in the proportion of cancers diagnosed at stage one and stage two; and reducing the proportion of cancers diagnosed following an emergency admission.
7. Achieve and maintain two new mental health access standards [and] continue to meet a dementia diagnosis rate of at least two-thirds of the estimated number of people with dementia.
8. Deliver actions set out in local plans to transform care for people with learning disabilities.
9. Develop and implement an affordable plan to make improvements in quality particularly for organisations in special measures.
The guidance is supported by the proposal, currently under consultation from Monitor and NHS England, that hospital trusts make annual efficiency savings of 2%. This is lower than the 4% originally envisaged, in reflection of rising costs.
The guidance is published by NHS England, NHS Improvement (a new body that combines Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority), the Care Quality Commission, Public Health England, Health Education England and NICE.