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The NHS – where does it stand in 2017?


by Adam Rouse | 07 February 2017

It is safe to say that 2016 will do down in history as one of the most eventful years, with changes within the political landscape taking place across the world. Many could not wait for the year to be over and start with a seemingly blank slate in 2017! 

The National Health Service also had an interesting year, with numerous highs and lows and significant changes across the public body. Below is just a brief overview of some of the developments that occurred in 2016. 

The ever-changing political landscape 
In June, the UK faced unprecedented results when the EU referendum took place and 52 percent of voters chose to leave the European Union. Throughout the campaign, Leave campaigners pledged an additional £350 million to be invested into the NHS. However, once the result was announced, many Leavers quickly denied ever having agreed to offer this £350 million surplus to the NHS.

The results also led to the resignation of David Cameron from 10 Downing Street and Theresa May was appointed as Prime Minister, bringing in a new cabinet with her. There was further friction between the PM and the NHS when May told Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, that the institution would not receive extra funding. Only time will tell how Brexit and May’s inevitable plans for privatisation will impact the NHS in the long-term. 

Trusts face huge financial pressures
At the end of 2015/16, Trusts continued to face enormous pressure when it was found they were in £2.5 billion deficit. However, Trusts have been taking extra steps to tackle the deficit. Recent figures for Quarter 2 has shown there has been a significant improvement. Providers made £1.2 billion of savings through cost improvement programmes, reducing total year-to-date expenditure by 2.9 percent. 

Sustainability and Transformation Plans
Last year I wrote an article detailing the proposed Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) and this was a huge focus at the start of 2016. When speaking to clients, they have mentioned how tricky the process and how tight deadlines were, but all 44 plans have been submitted and finalised. It is excellent to see the whole sector now working more collaboratively at a local level, which will hopefully improve the delivery of health and social care.  

Impact of the Five Year Forward View 
It has now been two years since the publication of the Five Year Forward view, detailing the NHS’ view for the next five years. The report set out a vision for a better NHS and the steps that should be taken to improve the NHS. Last year, new care models programme that had been set up in the Five Year Forward View went full steam ahead. NHS Improvement (NHSI) accredited the first trusts that could act as group leaders. NHS England published contracting frameworks for multispecialty community providers, primary acute care systems and care homes and the new care model programme recently awarded over £100 million of funding to vanguard sites.

Milestones for mental health services 
Over the last year, the NHS has worked hard to improve the issues surrounding mental health, with the mental health task force making recommendations on how an effective service can be offered to mental health service can be offered to patients.

Delayed transfers of care now at a record high
Although the frontline are putting in a huge amount of effort to improve delivery, the sector is still struggling to meet national targets and only 12 trusts were meeting the four hour A&E target. 

Junior doctor’s strike 
Last year we saw junior doctors going on strike across the country which resulted in the longest and most severe period of industrial action. This strike led to many junior doctors walking out and refusing to deliver urgent and emergency care. 

Pressures in primary and social care 
The pressures in primary and social care have worsened over the past year, to the point where the CQC described social care as being at a tipping point in their annual State of Care report. We and other commentators called for extra funding for social care and primary care to alleviate pressure on NHS trusts, but this wasn’t delivered in the Autumn Statement which will make it much more difficult to deal with the expected demand.

Challenges from new leadership strategies 
A new leadership strategy was published to try and overcome these challenges and it was aimed to boost diversity and clinical experience. New initiatives were introduced by Jeremy Hunt which included an NHS MBA and a nursing apprenticeship scheme.

So to conclude, although the NHS are facing a lot of demands and pressure, I feel that the sector has responded to issues in a great way and have got some great plans to get the NHS to where it should be.

I would love to hear your thoughts about 2016 and if there is light at the end of the tunnel for our great National Health Service in the comments box below. Alternatively, browse through our latest NHS roles