ACEVO and FTN welcome new NHS Commissioning Board mandate and announce new work programme

Written by Andrew Holt

ACEVO and the Foundation Trust Network (FTN) have welcomed the new NHS Commissioning Board mandate, published today by the Department of Health, and announced a new work programme to assess how NHS Trusts and third sector organisations can jointly contribute to delivering the new mandate.

The work programme the two organisations have announced today will:

Showcase existing best practice that has been developed by NHS trusts and voluntary organisations working together in the mandate’s priority areas;

Assess how this partnership can develop further to deliver the improvements the mandate requires;

Identify up to 20 concrete actions that either NHS trusts or voluntary organisations, or both in partnership, can undertake to drive the required improvements;

Identify what is needed from the rest of the NHS to deliver these actions.

Result in a joint report to be published in spring 2013

Chris Hopson, chief executive of the FTN, said: “The mandate brings a welcome clarity to the NHS’s strategic priorities to 2015. It’s good to finally see a patient focussed rationale for the reforms introduced in the Health and Social Care Act.

"NHS Trusts have a major role to play in delivering the mandate and our partnership with the voluntary sector is at its strongest in many of its key priority areas – for example, dementia, managing long term conditions, integrated care for the elderly and reducing mortality rates from the killer diseases.

"We’re therefore delighted to be working with ACEVO to see how we can develop that partnership even further to deliver the new mandate. We also particularly welcome the fact that the Department has listened to feedback and turned the document from an overly prescriptive tome into a short and clear set of strategic priorities.”

Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of ACEVO, added: “Third sector organisations and NHS trusts already do a great deal in partnership - but there is huge untapped potential for them to achieve more together. The UK has one of the most vibrant third sectors in the world, and one of the best health systems. Getting the two working better together could be key to the NHS's success in responding to the Secretary of State's mandate".

The comes as the first Mandate between the Government and the NHS Commissioning Board, setting out the ambitions for the health service for the next two years, is published today.

The Mandate reaffirms the Government’s commitment to an NHS that remains comprehensive and universal – available to all, based on clinical need and not ability to pay – and that is able to meet patients’ needs and expectations now and in the future.

The NHS Mandate is structured around five key areas where the Government expects the NHS Commissioning Board to make improvements:

Preventing people from dying prematurely

Enhancing quality of life for people with long-term conditions

Helping people to recover from episodes of ill health or following injury

Ensuring that people have a positive experience of care

Treating and caring for people in a safe environment and protecting them from avoidable harm.

Through the Mandate, the NHS will be measured, for the first time, by how well it achieves the things that really matter to people.

The key objectives contained within the Mandate include:

Improving standards of care and not just treatment, especially for the elderly

Better diagnosis, treatment and care for people with dementia

Better care for women during pregnancy, including a named midwife responsible for ensuring personalised, one-to-one care throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period

Every patient will be able to give feedback on the quality of their care through the Friends and Family Test starting from next April – so patients will be able to tell which wards, A&E departments, maternity units and hospitals are providing the best care

By 2015 everyone will be able to book their GP appointments online, order a repeat prescription online and talk to their GP online

Putting mental health on an equal footing with physical health – this means everyone who needs mental health services having timely access to the best available treatment

Preventing premature deaths from the biggest killers

By 2015, everyone should be able to find out how well their local NHS is providing the care they need, with the publication of the results it achieves for all major services.

Health secretary, Jeremy Hunt said: “Never in its long history has the NHS faced such rapid change in our healthcare needs, from caring for an older population, to managing the cost of better treatments, to seizing the opportunities of new technology.

“This Mandate is about giving the NHS the right priorities to deal with those challenges. By focusing on what matters to patients, and giving doctors and other professionals the freedom to deliver, we will make sure the NHS stays relevant to our needs and continues providing the best possible care for us all.”

The Mandate has been drawn up following consultation with the public, health professionals and key organisations across the health system between July and September 2012.

Thea Stein, CEO of Carers Trust, commented: “It is positive that carers issues have been considered within the mandate, but we are disappointed that the draft Mandate’s key focus on carers has been diluted.

“With only one broad measurable objective, we are concerned that the NHS could overlook the need to provide the range of support for carers that we know helps.

“The importance of information and advice for carers is mentioned but this is only part of what carers need. The ability to access specific local support and respite services, and the ability to continue to work or stay in education, are also crucial.

“Carers need to be able to find out what is being provided by their NHS. We would welcome further opportunities to work with the Government and local NHS providers to ensure their services are transparent and accountable.”

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