Stevens sets out programme of action for NHS

Simon Stevens

Meeting the A&E waiting time target and turning the corner on primary care investment will be key priorities for the NHS over the next 12 to 14 months, the head of NHS England has said.

Speaking at Confed17, Simon Stevens said the NHS will need to achieve the 95 per cent four-hour A&E waiting time target by the end of this year – echoing statements made by health secretary Jeremy Hunt on Thursday morning.

Further ‘overriding priorities’ include strengthening access to GP services and primary care, mental health and cancer, delivering financial balance and accelerating local care redesign and integration. 

On primary care, he spoke of turning the corner on investment in general practice, adding that primary care should be of equal concern to leaders across the system.

“The primary care piece is absolutely essential,” he said.

'Doing it all again'

His speech provided some of the detail behind Next steps on the Five Year Forward View, published in March. Similar in tone to Jim Mackey’s Confed17 speech, he said the NHS should have pride in progress made over the last year, but “we should acknowledge how difficult it is and is going to be.”

Recognising the hard work involved over the past 12 months, he was frank that the NHS needs to “do it all again” this year. This includes taking part in initiatives such as the Model Hospital and NHS RightCare.

Addressing health and care leaders for the first time since the general election, he used his speech to announce the first wave of accountable care systems and news of a health devolution deal in Surrey.

Service redesign

On service redesign, he spoke of the evidence that care redesign works, saying "we just bloody well have to get on with it."

Responding to questions from the floor on STPs, he said we are likely to see an evolution, with STP leaders in some areas stepping into the role full time.

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