The NHS Future Forum has published its recommendations to the Government on the modernisation of health and care.
Set up as an independent group in order to ‘pause, listen and reflect’ on the Health and Social Care Bill, the Forum has made 16 key recommendations, including:
- the pace of the proposed changes should be varied so that the NHS implements them only where it is ready to do so
- the Secretary of State for Health should remain ultimately accountable for the NHS
- nurses, specialist doctors and other clinicians must be involved in making local decisions about the commissioning of care – not just GPs – but in doing this the NHS should avoid tokenism, or the creation of a new bureaucracy
- competition should be used to secure greater choice and better value for patients – it should be used not as an end in itself, but to improve quality, promote integration and increase citizens’ rights
- the drive for change in the NHS should not be based on Monitor’s duty to ‘promote’ competition, which should be removed, but on citizens’ power to challenge the local health service when they feel it does not offer meaningful choices or good quality
- all organisations involved in NHS care and spending NHS money should be subject to the same high standards of public openness and accountability.
The Forum’s recommendations will now be considered and responded to by the Government.
Forum Chairman Professor Steve Field, a practising GP from Birmingham, said: ‘There is no doubt that the NHS needs to change. The principles underlying the Bill – devolving control to clinicians, giving patients real choices and control, and focusing on outcomes – are well supported.
‘However, during our listening we heard genuine and deep-seated concerns from NHS staff, patients and the public that must be addressed if the reforms are to be progressed. If the substantial changes we propose are accepted by Government, then I think the resulting framework will place the NHS in a strong position to meet this objective and tackle the pressing challenges in the years ahead.’
The NHS Future Forum was launched on 6 April as part of the Government’s listening exercise on the current Health and Social Care Bill. Since then its 45 members have attended around 200 events and have met more than 6,700 people face to face. More than 25,000 people have sent their views to the Forum by email, while a further 4,000 have sent private comments, completed questionnaires or website responses.