On 12 July 2010, the coalition government released a new white paper setting out the proposed direction for the NHS. This white paper is designed to build on the successes of previous governments whilst addressing some of the key problems which have plagued the NHS over the previous years.
The key points of the new direction include:
The following paragraphs constitute a summary of the main points raised by the white paper:
Greater availability of information and more accountability
Increased choice and control
Patient and public voice
A new consumer champion called HealthWatch England will be created within the Care Quality Commission to look after the interest of patients and ensure that patient views and feedback are taken into account.
The government is intent on building on the principles of quality set out in the Darzi report. Having already modified some of the key targets for the year 2010-2011, the government wants to ensure that targets with no clinical relevance are scrapped and replaced by evidence-based measures and targets.
The NHS outcome framework
The government will set out the key outcomes that need to be achieved and will leave it to local authorities to determine how those objectives are best achieved. This will target 3 distinct areas of quality:
Quality standards and incentives for improvement
Commissioning powers will be devolved to GPs through the creation of GP consortia. They are expected to be responsible for 80% of the budget.
NHS Commissioning Board
This new independent board will oversee the commissioning process and issue guidelines. It will design the structure of the tariffs and other incentives, though actual tariff levels will be set by Monitor. The Board will also ensure full patient participation and involvement, and will overseas the GP consortia. In addition it will commission services not commissioned by consortia such as maternity services and very specialised services. This means that the commissioning function will be taken out of the PCTs' hands and PCTs will therefore be abolished, saving £1 billion in administration costs alone.
Freeing existing NHS providers
All Foundation Trusts are to be freed of current constraints and it is expected that all trusts will become foundation trusts within 3 years (Note: the Labour government had set a deadline of December 2008, which was never met).
The Care Quality Commission will monitor the quality of healthcare provided whilst Monitor will act as an economic regulator from April 2012. Monitor’s role will be to promote competition and regulate prices.
Interested in reading the full paper? Click on this link to download the NHS White paper: Equity and Excellence - Liberating the NHS.
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