Weekly political news round up – 9th February 2018

This week, NHS England has published refreshed planning guidance for 2018/19 to set out how it will deliver on the aims of the Five Year Forward View and spend the additional money allocated to it. It has also been reported that NHS England has “abandoned” its plan for a forward view for community services. Derek Thomas has been elected to the Health Select Committee, and the Welsh NHS has allocated £100 million to invest in new models of care.

NHS England publishes refreshed planning guidance for 2018/19

NHS England has published refreshed planning guidance for 2018/19, to take into account the additional £1.6 billion of NHS funding announced in the Budget and outline what needs to be delivered on existing priorities for the year. The guidance confirms that Accountable Care Systems are being renamed to Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), which are described as systems in which “commissioners and NHS providers, working closely with GP networks, local authorities and other partners, agree to take shared responsibility (in ways that are consistent with their individual legal obligations) for how they operate their collective resources for the benefit of local populations”, on a voluntary basis and in an integrated manner. There is also an expectation stated in the document that all STPs will eventually become ICSs.

The document states that eight areas are currently deemed ‘shadow’ accountable care systems and will only become ICSs once they have produced “a credible plan that delivers the system control total”, which will enable some organisations within an ICS to go over their control total as long as others go under and the overall system total is still met. Those ICSs that do not meet their control totals will not be eligible to access additional funding allocated to a Provider Sustainability Fund (PSF). The Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, Niall Dickson, warned that the allocation of the extra funding “comes with too many strings attached”, but praised the recognition that CCGs need support to use their budgets more flexibly within a local area.

NHS England has “abandoned forward view” for community services

It has been reported that NHS England has abandoned its intention to create a “forward view” plan for community services, despite the proposal being included in a previously leaked document. The community services framework would have been used to fully redesign community services to support the ambitions of STPs; achieve efficiency savings associated with moving care into the community; and deliver on targets set out in the General Practice Forward View to ensure primary and community care can work together.

The decision not to publish a forward view for community services has been criticised, with Matthew Winn, chair of the Community First Network, saying “community services consume around 10 per cent of the NHS budget, yet the infrastructure and leadership in national bodies is virtually non-existent. It is time NHS England and partner arm’s length bodies backed up their rhetoric of moving care closer to home with the resources and infrastructure to make this happen.”

Derek Thomas elected to Health Select Committee

It has been reported on Conservative Home that Derek Thomas has been elected to the Health Select Committee. Thomas will be replacing Maggie Throup, who was appointed as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Department of Health and Social Care ministerial team. While it was also reported that Martin Vickers was elected to the Committee, it is not clear who he would be replacing, and this has not been reported elsewhere.

Thomas has been the MP for West Cornwall since 2015, and said that he is “determined to do what I can to ensure that the NHS works for one and all and that we properly integrate health and social care.” Before becoming an MP, he ran a small business and had worked in the voluntary sector as an outreach worker for the Church of England and as a Youth and Community Manager for a Methodist Church.

Welsh NHS allocated £100m to invest in new models of care

The Welsh Government has allocated £100 million to invest in new models of care, as part of its Transformation Programme to integrate community and primary care services. The funding will deliver on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Review of Health and Social Care, and the Welsh Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething, said he hoped it would be used to create “new, bold and innovative ways of delivering services to secure a sustainable future.” The programmes which it will fund will be similar to the vanguard projects in England.

The associate director of RCN Wales, Helen Whyley, welcomed the money but warned that “This funding must be invested in transforming the NHS in Wales to provide better facilities and resources and not propping up existing budgets and duplicating current services.”