Building on reform success in the NHS

7 July 2016

Our drive for a seven day NHS has been big news recently given the junior doctors’ contract dispute. But these changes are only one component of a broader programme of NHS reform to meet our ambition that NHS care should be the safest and highest quality available anywhere. Next steps include progress in five more critically-important areas:

Seven day hospital and GP care

We need to reform the consultants’ contract, make key diagnostic services seven-day and ensure all hospitals meet the four clinical standards most relevant to reducing the ‘weekend effect’ for those admitted under urgent or emergency conditions. We will also enable everyone to book routine GP appointments in the evenings and at weekends as part of the seven day revolution.

Transparency

England will shortly become the first country in the world to publish Ofsted-style ratings for the quality of care in every region for cancer, maternity, diabetes, dementia, mental health and treatment of those with learning disabilities. We already publish more information about the quality of care than any other country, but this will take our transparency to the next stage.

Reducing avoidable mortality

We still have around 150 avoidable deaths every week in the NHS – so this year all NHS trusts are publishing estimates of their own avoidable mortality rates, alongside plans to bring them down. Part of the problem is that it is still too hard for staff to speak out about mistakes, so lessons aren’t learnt and disseminated throughout the NHS. We are legislating to allow ‘safe spaces’ for doctors and nurses to discuss patient safety issues without having to worry about litigation or disciplinary procedures.

Integration of health and social care

Too often people are pushed from pillar to post between the NHS and social care systems. Only true integration of these systems will end this – and I’m pleased to say that Manchester looks like it will get there first.

Efficiency and proper use of technology

The ground-breaking procurement and rostering reforms in Lord Carter’s report will make sure every penny possible is spent on frontline patient care. This can save £5 billion a year by 2020, with measures such as the introduction of modern IT systems ensuring doctors and nurses can spend less time on paperwork and more time with patients.

Taken together, these measures will help propel the NHS to fulfil our shared ambition to become the safest, highest quality and most efficient health system in the world. Both as patients and taxpayers the British people deserve nothing less.

Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health

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