Today’s speech by health secretary Jeremy Hunt in which he called for a focus on the empowerment of NHS patients and staff, commitments to locally led change, more transparency and a culture of improvement rather than blame has been welcomed by senior healthcare figures.
On the health secretary’s pledge to create a new body NHS Improvement, with a hosted team modelled on the air investigation branch in the air industry, Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The air industry’s systematic approach and no-blame culture around investigating avoidable deaths provides opportunities for learning. While people are not planes and are much more variable and complex, we need to always seek to learn from wherever we can.”
And on the need for transparency and fewer targets Mr Webster commented: “Simplifying targets and encouraging transparency will give greater assurance to local organisations that they can address their issues accurately and openly without fear of recrimination or over-regulation.
“It is a useful step towards fulfilling calls from the health service for a simplified outcomes framework that better supports joined up working, across healthcare, public health and social care. Health and care leaders need to be able to focus on how best to meet local people’s needs and work in partnership to develop new care models, rather than be dominated by individual organisations’ targets.
“Our members have told us that we need targets which are evidence based, reflect what matters to patients and don’t create unnecessary paperwork or perverse incentives.”
Adding his voice to the chorus of those welcoming the health secretary’s words, Daniel Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “Today sets a clear direction for reform which is good news for patients and we now need to work together with our medical colleagues and their trade union, the BMA, to implement the changes the Secretary of State has indicated.”
Some criticism did come Mr Hunt’s way when he announced plans to impose seven-day working on hospital doctors in England stating that a Monday to Friday culture had led to tragic consequences on multiple occasions.
Further announcements made by Mr Hunt today include the merger of Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority.