Speaking at the NHS Confederation conference, Sajid Javid has outlined plans for the year ahead highlighting the publication of a digital health and care plan, health disparities white paper and the NHS’s first-ever 15-year workforce strategy.
Over the next three years, the Health and Care Levy will see £39 billion of additional funding invested in the health and care sector to help reduce waiting times and ease pressures on the workforce so they can deliver for patients.
The Health and Social Care Secretary commented that progress is being made with hundreds of thousands of patients receiving care more quickly through over 90 new community diagnostics centres (CDCs) to provide easier access to tests closer to home, delivering over one million additional checks, and providing patients with earlier diagnoses. He added that the number of people on the longest waits has halved in the past four months.
Sajid Javid talked about the power of partnerships – taking learnings from the pandemic to strengthen ways of working between different health and care services and drive down waiting times. For example, South London Health and Community Partnership – a partnership of three mental health Trusts – has been able to bring out-of-area patients down by a third and readmissions down by two-thirds.
The Health and Social Care Secretary commented: "It’s not about reinventing the wheel. It’s about listening to the innovators already doing incredible things within the system – then giving them a platform to do it. There are also some 50 acute Trust collaboratives and mixed collaborative, bringing together acute, specialist, mental health and community providers. They’ve already shown that when we partner like this, challenges that appear intractable in one place can be resolved in another."
He reflected on work already underway to tackle the COVID backlog, improve social care and narrow health inequalities, and went on to set out what the Government will deliver over the next year, including:
- A digital health and care plan
- Health disparities white paper
- 10-year plans on cancer, dementia and mental health
- A reset of the NHS Long Term Plan
- A Health Education England workforce framework followed by the NHS’s first-ever 15-year workforce strategy.
Looking ahead, the Health and Social Care Secretary, continued: "I’ve been determined that we keep moving forward because, this moment in time, we dare not lose. It’s a moment when we can combine valuable lessons from the pandemic, with incredible new technology and innovative ways of working – which, when taken together, help us face the challenges of the future. It’s a small window of time where we can make a big difference."
On leadership, he reflected on the findings from General Sir Gordon Messenger and Dame Linda Pollard’s review into health and social care leadership published last week. The review found various examples of exceptional leadership in difficult circumstances. However, it also highlighted reports of poor behaviour, bullying and discrimination in certain parts of the health and social care system. Employing great leadership at the top will help to take burden off NHS staff, allowing staff to focus on providing care for patients and bringing down waiting lists.
Discussing the review, Sajid Javid added: "Just as Gordon and Linda found that bad behaviour was contagious, they found that great leadership was contagious too. It works best when everyone – even those without leader in their job description – feels like a leader."
Responding to the Secretary of State’s speech at the NHS ConfedExpo conference, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “Health leaders will be reassured that our health secretary recognises the fantastic work they and their teams are delivering to make sure their patients get the care they need and they share his ambition to take this even further, while also ensuring every penny of investment is put to best use. The NHS is full of exceptional leaders but they cannot work miracles.
“There is a capacity gap across financial resilience, capital investment and workforce which needs urgent attention and we have heard the chief executive of the NHS say that the next 900 days are likely to be tougher than the 900 days of the pandemic before it.
“Despite everything leaders are doing, 9 out of 10 members we surveyed recently told us their efforts to reduce waiting lists are being hindered by a decade long lack of investment in buildings and estates, and that they cannot transform patient services to meet the current Long Term Plan targets without further investment."