Three responses on the NHS England's Next steps on the five year forward view published last week.

Chris Ham, Chief Executive of the Kings Fund welcomes the setting of a clear course for the NHS over the next couple of years, but warns we should be under no illusions about how difficult it will be to deliver the ambitions set out in the plan. 

"The plan seeks to strike a balance between realism about the challenges facing the NHS today and promises to improve care. These promises focus on urgent and emergency care, primary care, cancer, and mental health. They include delivering the four hours standard in all emergency departments during 2018, providing extended access to general practice appointments in the evenings and weekends in all areas of the country by March 2019, introducing a new standard to give patients a definitive cancer diagnosis within 28 days after GP referral by 2020, and increasing the availability of psychological therapies and mental health services for children and young people. There is welcome recognition of the need to be clear about what can and cannot be achieved within the funding made available by the government...... Read whole article here

NAVCA says that it's a step back for the voluntary sector.

The Five Year Forward View was a breakthrough in 2014, recognising the value of the part played by charities and voluntary organisations in improving health and care services. References to social action, volunteering and the voluntary sector were peppered throughout. It made a strong case for investment in charities' capacity to engage people in their own health and care. In contrast, 'Next Steps' contains few mentions of the voluntary sector, the contribution of volunteers goes unrecognised and the role played by charities in helping shape services around the needs of patients and carers is completely missed.

Neil Cleeveley, Chief Executive of NAVCA, said; "Although it says little about charities, the report makes much of person centred and community based care, where the voluntary sector excels. I hope our members will use NAVCA's analysis to make the case for greater voluntary sector involvement in local health and care systems."

Read the NAVCA analysis here.

Richard Humphries, Senior Fellow Policy, The Kings Fund, considers the tough choices faced by local councils in allocating £2 billion extra social care funding, with a key component of NHS England's delivery plan stating that the money will be used to free up hospital beds. 

The £1 billion available next year would, said the Chancellor, ‘enable councils to take immediate action to fund care packages for more people, support social care providers and relieve pressure on the NHS locally’. NHS leaders, having altruistically championed the case for any new money to go to social care and not into their own coffers, were quick to stake their claim. A key component of the Next steps on the NHS five year forward viewdelivery plan is that part of the money will be used to free up 2,000–3,000 hospital beds. So it was inevitable that there would be strings attached to the new grant, fuelled by suspicions that with councils facing monumental pressures from other services – from potholes to parks – it might not end up in adult social care...... Read the whole article here