Weekly political news round up – 23rd December 2015

December 23, 2015 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

NHS England has announced that a further 52 CCGs have been authorised to take on delegated responsibility for commissioning GP services, allowing them to improve out of hospital services and support the development of new models of care. These CCGs will operate under the new arrangements from April 2016, meaning that approximately half of the 209 CCGs wil have delegated responsibility in 2016/17.

Healthcare regulator Monitor, due to be merged with the NHS Trust Development Authority in April 2016 to create NHS Improvement, has published the new draft national tariff prices for NHS services for 2016/17. These services include outpatient attendance fees for paediatric urology, as well as A&E attendances and admitted care and outpatient procedures costs for urinary tract infections.

Former Healthwatch England chair Anna Bradley, who left the role in mid-December, has said that the patients are so grateful for the care that they receive that they are unwilling to criticse the NHS over its failing. She also said that doctors and managers should actively encourage patients to discuss ways in which services could be improved, also calling on them to demand rights to services in the same way that they would highstreet products.

Ofsted has been instructed to make £38 million of savings over the four-year period to 2019/20. Ofsted’s existing budget for 2015/16 is £142.8 million, meaning that the proposed cuts will represent a 26.6% drop in funding. Minutes of the board-level discussions also show that Ofsted will reduce the number of inspectors taking part in inspections to ease pressure on resources.

Forthcoming events

The House of Commons and House of Lords have now both risen for the Christmas recess period. The Commons will return on 5th January, with the Lords returning on 11th January.

NHS England publishes planning guidance for CCGs, local authorities and NHS trusts on delivering the Five Year Forward View

NHS England and its associated bodies have published planning guidance for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), local authorities and NHS trusts on delivering the Five Year Forward View (FYFV) between 2016/17 and 2020/21. The guidance instructs every local health and social care system to work together to develop a local sustainability and transformation plan (STP) to take forward the FYFV. This guidance also sets out nine ‘must dos’ for 2016/17 for every local health system.

The guidance outlines that STPs must focus on three main areas: addressing the health and wellbeing gap; driving transformation to close the care and quality gap; and closing the finance and efficiency gap. STPs must focus primary medical care from a local CCG perspective and reflect health and wellbeing strategies. They will act as an umbrella plan, encompassing a number of different specific delivery plans. The geographical scope of each STP is not yet defined, with local health system leaders required to determine them and inform NHS England by the end of January 2016.

Plans will act as the single application for additional transformation funding for 2017/18 onwards. The earliest that funding can be secured through this route is April 2017, with STPs being judged on criteria such as the quality of plans and the scale of ambition and record of accomplishment of progress made. STPs will also be judged on the reach and quality of local engagement, the strength of local leadership and the likelihood that the activities in the plans will be taken forward.

Each local system will also be required to develop an operational plan for 2016/17, which will form one of the five years of an STP. This plan must establish how financial balance will be attained, contributions to efficiency savings, and quality and safety improvement.

Developing an STP is one of the nine ‘must dos’ for each local system, with the others requiring an aggregate financial balance to be attained whilst reducing unwarranted variation in demand and access. Local systems are also required to implement a local plan to address the sustainability and quality of general practice, including workforce and workload issues, as well as ensure quick referral to treatment (less than 18 weeks) that accounts for patient choice. The other five ‘must dos’ cover areas such as access standards for A&E and ambulance waits, cancer waiting standards, mental health, learning disabilities, and improvements in quality for organisations in special measures.