04 June 2015

Chief Exec's Blog - Putting the H back into NHS

blog-mini-orangeListening to Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of the NHS at the NHS Confederation conference was extremely challenging, encouraging and promising.

The challenge is unsurprising, but provides a sobering dose of reality for all of us in the care industry. Any new money is dependent on our reducing waste and delivering greater efficiency across the service. Delivering required performance remains essential. The introduction of access targets for mental health is a welcome step forward, albeit with the need to deliver all of this within the context of increasing demand and major staffing challenges.

Encouraging in that there is a commitment to avoiding top down reorganisation and enabling local system working that addresses the particular circumstances of local communities. Also encouraging in the commitment across national NHS bodies to this approach and that plans will be developed from the bottom up.

Promising as there is a real commitment to emphasising and realising the HEALTH in NHS ensuring prevention is the key to sustainability of our service in the future. This bodes very well for mental health and for achieving parity between physical and mental health. Focusing on people's psychological needs will hugely reduce the demands in physical health services; addressing the complex and co-morbid conditions of older people with dementia will reduce the need to admit, inappropriately, to acute hospitals. Providing early intervention to young people experiencing first episode psychosis achieves better outcomes and reduces dependency on services later in the person's life.

So, broadening our thinking in terms of prevention and the role that mental health can play in bringing benefit to the wider system of care will be essential in tackling the challenges faced in today's care services and more importantly in ensuring we reinvigorate the H in our NHS.

With careful bottom up thinking and planning, just how far could we go?

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