At a time when the NHS is facing significant financial pressures, has been challenged to deliver huge productivity gains and is about to undergo major structural changes, robust accountability frameworks will be particularly important. While we welcome the moves in the NHS Operating Framework 2011/12 to ensure patients continue to enjoy shorter waiting times, it is worrying that timely access to services does not feature in the NHS Outcomes Framework, other than in respect of access to GP services. Timely access is a major concern of patients, and early detection and intervention are vital for both prevention and improving outcomes.
Although there are separate Outcome Frameworks for the NHS, public health and for social care, it is positive that, where outcomes depend on integration and alignment, indicators are replicated across the three frameworks, or complementary indicators are included. We hope this will promote joint working and service integration. However, there remains a risk that, beyond the limited set of indicators identified, opportunities for partnership working and service integration may not be realised.
Anna Dixon, Director of Policy at The King's Fund, said:
'While we welcome indicators being replicated across the three outcomes frameworks to promote service integration, we believe more will be needed to ensure integrated working across the NHS, public health and social care. It is vital that GP consortia see improving health and reducing inequalities as an important part of their responsibilities. They will also need to join up the commissioning of services with local authorities, especially for older people.'
Notes to editors:
For further information, or to request an interviewee, please contact The King's Fund’s press and public affairs office on 020 7307 2585. Out of hours, please ring 07584 146 035.
The new NHS Outcomes Framework is available via the Department of Health website.
The King's Fund is a charity that seeks to understand how the health system in England can be improved. Using that insight, we help to shape policy, transform services and bring about behaviour change. Our work includes research, analysis, leadership development and service improvement. We also offer a wide range of resources to help everyone working in health to share knowledge, learning and ideas.