Niall Dickson: NHS England's plan is ambitious and in some respects a leap in the dark

Niall Dickson

Responding to NHS England’s delivery plan (31 March 2017), Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents health service organisations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said:

“Given the difficult financial position in which we find ourselves, NHS England deserves credit for producing an ambitious plan for reform and transformation which must be the right approach.

“But we have to acknowledge that there are significant risks and in some respects it is a leap in the dark.

"We have no alternative but to embark upon such fundamental change but to do so when services are under enormous pressure and money is so tight is without precedent.

“What is being asked of health and care organisations is to set aside their own interests for the good of the wider system – and that will require new ways of thinking at local level and much stronger and more consistent support from national bodies.

“The current system needs to be redesigned to meet the very different health demands of the 21st Century, but the proposed new structures and models of care will need to be tested. This will be challenging without the funds to grow them while existing services are still operating.

“There is currently wide variation across the country and it is important there is support that reflects local reality. Those areas which are most advanced should receive the backing to transform services. But we also need to support other areas where there is more to do in reshaping services, building the necessary relationships and engaging the public. It’s imperative that they are all given the time and resources to bring about the changes.

"Our members are also keen to stress the importance of NHS England’s plans being aligned with those of other national bodies, such as NHS Improvement and CQC, to avoid unnecessary duplication and conflicting priorities across the system.

“Finally we need a greater acknowledgement about the limitations as to what the NHS can deliver and the public can expect - commissioners and providers must be supported when they have to make difficult choices.”

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