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Safeguarding the future of the NHS

20th June 2011

The Government today set out further details of the improvements it will make to its plans to modernise the NHS and put patients at the heart of the health service.

Last week the Government accepted the core recommendations of the independent NHS Future Forum. Their report confirmed that there was considerable support for the principles of reform but that some of the ways in which we were putting those principles into practice could be improved.  Today we have set out in more detail the substantial changes we will make to strengthen our plans in the interests of patients.

Today’s publication remains true to the core principles of modernising the NHS, to create a stronger health system for the future:

  • that’s led by frontline professionals;
  • where patients and the public have a stronger voice and more control;
  • where people’s health and social care needs aren’t treated separately;
  • where local councils have a real say over decisions in the NHS;
  • that’s focused on the causes of health problems as well as treating them; and
  • that’s judged on the quality of care and results for patients it provides.

As part of the Government’s full response to the independent NHS Future Forum’s report, we have today taken steps to ensure patients and carers are at the heart of the NHS so that shared decision making becomes second nature, guided by the principles that there should be ‘no decision about me, without me’.

We have also outlined the new safeguards we will introduce against price competition, privatisation and private companies ‘cherry-picking’ profitable NHS business.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

“It was right that we took the time to pause, listen, reflect and improve our plans and I believe our proposals are now stronger thanks to this process.

“I have accepted the recommendations from the team of top health experts because they will improve care for patients.  The last few weeks have shown broad agreement that there is an overwhelming case for a modernised NHS, and that the principles of putting patients at the centre, focusing on results and putting professionals in charge are the right ones.

“I believe the revised plans we set out today will both safeguard the future of our NHS, and ensure it is more efficient and more accountable, moving us closer to having a high-quality health service that puts patients at the heart of everything it does.”

The Government today committed to a new ‘Duty of Candour’, a contractual requirement on providers to be open and transparent in admitting mistakes. The Health and Social Care Bill will also be amended to require Foundation Trust hospitals to hold their board meetings in public. These examples of increased transparency, openness, and accountability will allow the public and patient to more effectively challenge and scrutinise the delivery of local health services and will drive up quality.

The Government also confirmed that patients will continue to have the legal right to drugs and treatments that have been recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) beyond 2014 and the introduction of value-based pricing.

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. The amendments will be published shortly.

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