How will these NHS changes affect you this year?
2016 was a tumultuous year for the economy, especially after Britain's shock vote to leave the European union, and with the young doctor strikes and no concrete mention of its funding in the Budget or Autumn Statement, lots of us have been left wondering just what has 2016 meant for the NHS?
Back in September NHS England and NHS Improvement revealed their 'Forward View' for the service, which, for the first time, includes a combine plan for 2017/2018. Planning ahead for two years simultaneously means that the service can reiterate and follow through better with any new schemes and improvements introduced.
So, as this year comes to a close, we take a look at what the NHS will look like in 2017...
A focus on cancer, mental health, learning disabilities and primary care
For the next few years, a strong focus for the NHS will be on the treatment of cancer, mental health care, patients with learning disabilities and the bettering of primary care. The improvement of urgent and emergency treatment was also an area flagged in the NHS' 'Forward View' announcement.
As Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England, confirms: “We’re taking action to support collaborative action across the health service with fresh funding and practical measures to deliver improvement in cancer, mental health, learning disabilities, primary care, and urgent and emergency care”.
Fewer delays in discharging patients
NHS England have stated that there will be brand-new incentives of over £100m given to help cut unnecessary and costly delays in discharging patients from hospital.
"[There will be] over £100m of financial incentives for local health systems to take concerted, effective and sustainable action to help prevent unnecessary delays to patients leaving hospital. For older people in particular, longer stays can lead to poorer health and can increase their long-term care needs", says Jim Mackey, Chief Executive of NHS Improvement.
Better care for those with mental health problems visiting A&E
The service aims to improve its mental health care overall for children and young people, and also wants to introduce better care for patients visiting Accident and Emergency with mental health issues. More mental health training for A&E staff is planned, as are in-hospital carers, who can help recognise and treat mental health patients quickly and correctly.
"People with mental ill health are three times more likely to present [themselves] to A&E than the general population, so this incentive will allow mental health and acute trusts to access funding aimed at improving support for the top 0.25 per cent or 150 to 200 people per A&E, who use it most frequently through improved recognition and coding of mental health needs and proactive care planning", says Mackey.
Better service from your GP
Away from hospitals, it was announced that NHS England would aim to improve local general practices, with reduced wait times and increased capacity being one of their main focuses.
Jim Mackey, Chief Executive of NHS Improvement, also states that: "Extra funding will be used to help transform services. On top of planned increases to primary medical care allocations for general practice, there will be further local recurrent funding to improve and increase capacity in general practice, totalling £138m by 2017/18 and increasing to £258m in 2018/19. This means that from April 2019 [there will be] a minimum additional £6 per head to improve access to general practice."
For more details on the NHS's funding and allocation plans for 2017, visit https://www.england.nhs.uk/tag/planning-guidance/.