The Government's mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB) sets out the ambitions for the health service for the next two years.
The NHS mandate is structured around five key areas where the Government expects the NHSCB to make improvements:
- preventing people from dying prematurely
- enhancing quality of life for people with long-term conditions
- helping people to recover from episodes of ill health or following injury
- ensuring that people have a positive experience of care
- treating and caring for people in a safe environment and protecting them from avoidable harm.
Listened to the health service
Commenting on its publication today (13 November), Mr Farrar said: "This mandate represents a major sea change for the NHS. It sets out a clear vision of what the public can expect from the NHS. We are pleased the Government has listened to the views we put forward on behalf of the health service. We argued that it should not be too detailed or prescriptive.
"It was really important that the Government avoided stuffing the mandate to the gunnels with detailed targets for every condition under the sun. While that might have looked superficially attractive, it would have meant more top-down prescription and less innovation and responsiveness to local needs.
Tool for stability
"The real challenge for the Government now is to stay true to its word and use the mandate to give the NHS stability, rather than use it as a tool to reset priorities on a regular basis."
Power to the frontline
Mr Farrar continued: "The NHSCB must take advantage of the opportunity it now has now been given to get power to the frontline. The NHS has always wanted to have more freedom. Now we have a chance to show we can make it work.
Hold ministers to their word
"We will hold ministers to their word that they will not try to revise the mandate on an ad hoc piecemeal basis in response to the latest issue that hits the headlines.
"The NHS has just undergone the biggest structural reorganisation of its history. It faces enormous strategic challenges to remain sustainable in the future. It desperately needs a stable environment so that it can concentrate on these big issues on behalf of the public.
Need for change
"We particularly welcome the focus on service change and the importance of delivering a clear evidence base. We would urge politicians to take this opportunity to start a clear dialogue with the public about why some local NHS services will need to change. It is important that NHS leaders and politicians explain clearly what they can gain from service change, rather than focussing on what is being taken away".
Staff health and wellbeing
Dean Royles, director of NHS Employers, a part of the NHS Confederation, added:
"For many NHS staff, the nature of their work can be physically and mentally challenging so we are pleased to see the particular focus from Government on making staff health and wellbeing a key issue in the mandate.
"Investing in safe, healthy workplaces not only increases productivity and raises morale, but it improves patient outcomes and experience."
Find out more
Download the Government's mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board.