Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has outlined plans for what he believes is a more “patient-focused” NHS culture.
This will include new Ofsted-style ratings to show patients how their local health service is performing in areas including cancer, dementia, diabetes, mental health and maternity care.
The new ratings, broken down by Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), will also be verified by experts in each field, including the chief executive of Cancer Research UK, Harpal Kumar, and the government’s Mental Health Taskforce Chairman Paul Farmer.
Initial ratings, based on the current CCG assessments, will be published in June 2016.
The British Medical Association called the ratings system “simplistic” and said that they would not improve care.
Hunt also announced a range of new measures aimed at cutting bureaucracy across the health system, including: stopping “pointless” referrals from hospitals back to GPs – which account for around 2.5 percent of appointments; introducing a single payment system that covers all transactions to stop GP practices chasing different organisations for payment; and making surgeries paperless by 2018, ending the use of fax machine communications between hospitals and surgeries.
There will also be action to take forward the findings from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges’ report on clinical accountability. The government will ensure that a named, responsible clinician for individual patients will be incorporated into planning guidance from next year.
NHS England will also provide plans to increase the choice in maternity, end of life care, and the roll-out of personal budgets, and there will be a focus on removing barriers to putting patients first. Additionally, a world expert on the pitfalls of new IT systems, Professor Bob Wachter, will conduct a review for the NHS on how to ensure a smooth move towards digital integration.