Today, I am laying before Parliament my annual assessment of the NHS Commissioning Board (known as NHS England) for 2016-17. A copy is attached. This draws on and responds to NHS England’s Annual Report and Accounts 2016-17, which were laid earlier today (HC101).
The Government’s mandate to NHS England sets out the steps that we expect it to take to help deliver our shared vision for the safest, most compassionate, highest quality health system in the world. We recognise that this can only be achieved through the outstanding contribution that the 1.3 million NHS staff across the country make each and every day in delivering care and support for patients, and I would like to pay tribute to their diligence, professionalism and expertise.
NHS England’s annual report sets out the progress made in delivering the mandate. It describes an organisation that continues to ensure that high quality care is delivered in the face of rising public demand and cost pressures across the system, and emphasises the need to deliver the Next Steps on the Five Year Forward View to address these challenges. The Government supports the NHS’s plan, including the development of clinically-led and locally-supported Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships.
My annual assessment welcomes the good progress that has been made in challenging circumstances, while recognising that there remains a great deal more to do, particularly to improve quality, access and safety whilst maintaining financial sustainability for the future.
NHS England’s core aim is to deliver excellence in access and outcomes for patients and, this year, substantial advances have been made across a number of areas, including mental health, maternity care and diabetes prevention. NHS England has also made a significant contribution to overall financial balance in the NHS.
However, continued growth in demand has put pressure on services and the NHS is not meeting core patient access standards. This remains a key priority and, to help address this, in 2017-18 NHS England will need to better manage demand, including by working with local government to ensure patients are transferred to more appropriate care when they are fit to leave hospital. To support this, the Government has provided an extra £2 billion for local authority-funded adult social care over the next three years, with £1bn available in 17/18.
My assessment sets out the Government’s expectation that the NHS will make further progress in the year ahead on achieving parity of esteem for mental health. Continuing the constructive joint working with NHS Improvement and Health Education England to better manage the challenges the NHS experiences over winter, as well as continuing progress to retain and increase the workforce, will be key. We will also look to NHS England, working with NHS Improvement, to deliver a balanced NHS budget.
We will continue to work closely with NHS England to address the significant challenges ahead and provide a sustainable and efficient health service with quality, transparency and safety at its heart.
Copies of my annual assessment and NHS England’s annual report will be available from the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords