Visions for care in strategic health authorities

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As part of Lord Darzi's review of the NHS, each strategic health authority (SHA) outside London was commissioned to produce a report outlining their 'vision' for care in their region over the coming decade.

To inform these reports, the nine SHAs were each instructed to establish eight 'clinical pathway groups' made up of clinicians and stakeholders.

These groups were asked to develop plans for 'world quality care' in their respective clinical areas. Consultation events for patients and members of the public were also held in each region to feed into each report.

The final 'vision' documents were published by the SHAs in May and June 2008 and are available from the NHS Next Stage Review website.

Lord Darzi's final national report, published at the end of June, has been presented as an 'enabling' document which will make the policy changes necessary to allow the regional plans to be implemented.

The SHA documents could mark a significant shift for the NHS in England, which for the past eight years has been governed by strong national targets and a plethora of guidance and regulation intended to standardise care. This is not to say that the service provided by the NHS is uniform across England, but the emphasis of national policy has been on securing common standards and addressing public concerns about geographical variations in care.

The SHA vision documents set out the priorities and targets for each region and are intended to be informed by and sensitive to the particular needs of each region's population and existing service structure. As a result they each focus on different issues and have produced different recommendations.

This briefing provides a thematic summary of some of the key features of the nine SHA plans, for the North West, North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, West Midlands, East Midlands, East of England, South East Coast, South Central and South West.