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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Putting patients at the heart of the health service

15th June 2011

The government has listened and is now improving its plans for the NHS, accepting the main recommendations of the independent NHS future forum.

The government accepted the core recommendations of the report from the independent NHS Future Forum, the group of health experts, and made changes to put patients at the centre of the health service.

The changes will mean less bureaucracy and waste, a greater focus on quality and results for patients, and more freedom for doctors, nurses and the wider frontline.

Speaking at a London hospital, the Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“The fundamentals of our plans – more control for patients, more power to doctors and nurses, and less bureaucracy in the NHS – are as strong today as they have ever been. But the detail of how we are going to make this all work has really changed as a direct result of this consultation.

“We have listened, we have learned, and we are improving our plans for the NHS. Ten weeks ago we paused our legislation. Today we show how we are improving it. We are taking people with us and it is in this spirit of unity that we are going to carry on listening and working together for the good of the NHS.”

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“We all know how important the NHS is to the British people. It isn’t just a system or a service. The NHS says something about who we are: a nation that cares for its citizens when they need it, whatever their means. The NHS isn’t a machine. You can’t flick a switch and turn it on and off. It’s a living, breathing part of our lives. Reforming an institution like that takes time. We have to be careful and considered. It’s too important to get this wrong.

“Patients, doctors and nurses have spoken. We have listened. Now we are improving our plans for the NHS. Yes to patient choice. No to privatisation. Yes to giving nurses, hospital doctors and family doctors more say in your care. No to the free market dogma that can fragment the NHS. The right reforms at the right pace. Evolution, not revolution.”

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

“The independent NHS Future Forum has made a number of recommendations and we are accepting them. This has been a genuine exercise and it is clear from our response today that substantial changes have been made in the interests of patients.

“The Forum confirmed that there is widespread support for the principles underpinning our plans for change: greater patient choice, ‘no decision about me, without me’, more control for doctors, nurses and frontline professionals, a focus on quality and results for patients, more information and more clout for the public.  These changes now will help us make those principles a reality.”

Among the key changes announced include:

  • Wider involvement in clinical commissioning groups. A wider range of experts will be given the power and freedom to make decisions about health services for their local community by, for example, including nurses and specialists on the boards of clinical commissioning groups.
  • Stronger safeguards against a market free-for-all. The health care regulator Monitor’s core duty will be to protect and promote patients’ interests, it won’t be required to promote competition as if it were an end in itself.
  • Additional safeguards against privatisation. We will never privatise the NHS, and will create a genuine level playing field to stop private companies ‘cherry-picking’ profitable NHS business. We will ensure that competition is on quality, not price.
  • Evolution, not revolution. We will allow clinical commissioning groups to take charge of commissioning when they are ready and able, and a more phased approach to the introduction of Any Qualified Provider.
  • Greater information and choice for patients. The government will make clear that the people who make decisions about local services have a duty to promote patient choice. And following current pilots, the government will make it a priority to extend personal health budgets including across health and social care.
  • Breaking down barriers within and beyond the NHS. A new duty for clinical commissioning groups to promote joined up services both within the NHS and between health, social care and other local services.
  • Investing for the future of the NHS. We want all providers to make a fair contribution to the costs of education and training of NHS staff, but we will introduce changes carefully and take the time to develop the details right.

In order to ensure that Parliament has sufficient opportunity to scrutinise the government's changes, relevant parts of the Health and Social Care Bill will be recommitted. Further details of this, and the amendments the government will make to the Bill, will be set out shortly.

The government also announced the independent NHS Future Forum will continue to lead on listening in the NHS, ensuring an effective communication channel with the NHS.  Among other areas they will focus on education and training; patients’ rights and public health.

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