Extended NHS obligations in 2017-18 mandate ‘well beyond reach’

The continued drive towards a seven-day NHS was confirmed by the Department for Health (DH) in its mandate to the NHS yesterday, as it was revealed that NHS England will be expected to provide weekend and evening access for almost half (40%) of the population by the end of 2017-18.

The mandate also set out a number of goals for the NHS with regards to emergency care: although the aim of treating 95% of patients within four hours remains a long-term target, the date that this is expected to be achieved has now been extended to 2020.

While hitting the overall target is listed as a 2020 goal, NHS England set out, as a 2017-18 deliverable, the desire to “co-implement the agreed A&E recovery plan with NHS Improvement and deliver aggregate A&E performance in England above 90% in September 2017, with the majority of trusts meeting 95% in March 2018”.

DH also told NHS England that it expected ambulance response time targets to be met for the most urgent calls by 2020 – targets which NHE revealed yesterday will be changed next month to allow A&E departments to cope more efficiently with enormous demand.

“We expect the NHS to deliver the Five Year Forward View (FYFV) and close the gaps in the quality of health, care and NHS finances through sustainability and transformation plans (STPs),” the mandate stated.

“For the first time, local service leaders in every part of England, both on the commissioner and provider side, have come together to develop these plans, with the aim of transforming health and care in the communities they serve.

“A number of metrics will be used to measure progress across STP footprints in delivering the FYFV, linking performance of the NHS at a local level more explicitly to national accountability.”

Full story in NHE, 22 March 2017