UK’s New Era In Health Care

Here’s some excerpts from the Gov Monitor describing the new strategy for health which will put patients first. It’s hard to imagine anything sounding more trite than that – after all what’s healthcare about if not patients?

That’s a rhetorical question of course. For clinicians and nurses healthcare has always been about patients. If only the same could be said for the politicians and bureaucrats who both waste money, and get in the way.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham today set out his strategy for the NHS to put patients first and improve the quality of care as it enters an unprecedented era of reform.

The strategy, ‘NHS 2010-2015: from good to great. Preventative, people-centred, productive,’ published today by the Department of Health, explains the need to accelerate the pace of NHS reform to make the system more productive and hasten improvements in quality of care – protecting patients, supporting staff, shifting resources to the frontline and slashing back office waste and bureaucracy.

The measures include:

A new payment system, which puts patients first – hospital income will increasingly be linked to patient satisfaction, rising to 10 per cent of their payments over time, meaning hospitals will work harder for their patients.

More choice for patients – abolishing GP practice boundaries, improving access to a GP in the evenings and weekends and more services at home or in the community.

Dedicated carers for those in need for patients with cancer or serious long-term conditions who can benefit from a more personal approach to nursing. Where appropriate, this should include the provision of personalised one-to-one support by a health professional, particularly for the more complex conditions.

New rights to high quality care including consulting on the right for patients nearing the end of their life to choose where they wish to spend their final days and new rights to high quality standards of service and care that will be clearly set out in the new NHS Constitution.

Supporting staff – we believe the announcement in the Pre-Budget Report provides the resources to protect frontline services in the NHS. We are proposing to work with NHS Employers and trade unions through the national Social Partnership Forum and Staff Council to explore the pros and cons of whether we could offer frontline staff an employment guarantee locally or regionally – in return for flexibility, mobility and sustained pay restraint.

More freedom for the best hospitals to expand their services out into the community across a wider area including GP centres.

More access to personal care plans that allow patients to choose the right care tailored to their individual needs.

Personal health budgets to empower patients to give millions of patients the right to more control over their care and the services they can ask for, as well as more options to receive care at or closer to home.

Locking in improvements in the service with the NHS Constitution – from 1 April 2010, we will give patients the legal right to maximum waiting times to start treatment by a consultant within 18 weeks of GP referral and to being seen by a cancer specialist within two weeks of GP referral. In addition, the Prime Minister announced in September plans to offer all patients in England access to tests that can confirm or exclude cancer within one week to help save thousands of lives every year.

From April 2012, we also want everyone between 40 and 74 to have the legal right to an NHS Health Check every five years to assess their risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

Regular free health checks will improve health and prevent up to 1,600 heart attacks and strokes each year.

In addition, NHS Chief Executive David Nicholson today outlined details of the NHS Operating Framework for 2010/11, due to be published next week, which will set out NHS priorities for the next year. The Operating Framework will help the NHS make the changes necessary to embed quality and for it to drive all that the NHS does.

The Framework will allow the NHS to focus on ensuring care is safe, compassionate and personal to patients and will provide real opportunity for radical and innovative approaches to improve the quality of services, whilst at the same time reducing costs.

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