This week Joy Hunter, newly appointed lead for the Blithering ICS, answers more of your questions about forthcoming reforms to the NHS as set out in the government white paper ‘Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all’
Why is the NHS being reformed?
Every so often we need to have an honest conversation with ourselves and ask some hard questions: What more could we do? Are we the best we could be? Are things fit for purpose? What does good like? Does it still look like that? How do we know?
The last time we asked these questions we made big structural changes that everyone agreed were the right thing to do at the time, but which some people – such as doctors, nurses, managers, patients, politicians and some members of the public – may now feel were “wrong” for them.
The white paper seeks to put that right in important ways, by making the NHS less bureaucratic, more accountable and more joined up.
Will this mean further reorganisation?
The answer in many ways is no, but in some key respects is yes.
Many of the things that were changed by the last reforms have evolved as part of our commitment to continuous improvement. Under the leadership of Sir Simon Stevens, the NHS took progressive steps to ignore the bits he didn’t like, such as the legal, regulatory and organisational aspects of the reforms, and to focus on the more important goal of writing plans.
The new legislation will simply formalise the changes that we’ve been making behind the scenes. For example, people told us they didn’t understand what clinical commissioning groups do. Thanks to these new reforms, you won’t need to.
What difference will this make to me?
The NHS Blithering Integrated Care System has been working tirelessly to bring together all parts of the health and care system in a range of meetings, working alongside other partner organisations and communities, to improve the lives of local people.
For example, we’ve worked with the police and other agencies to reduce wheelie bin theft, which unfairly targets people in less deprived areas. Our Kinder Blithering campaign has recruited dozens of new Be Nice Ambassadors to train volunteers in small acts of kindness, such as spontaneous greeting. And we have started dozens of other initiatives to combat pet crime, improve community cohesion through singing, and encourage younger people to practise safer skateboarding, to name a few.
The fact that most people haven’t noticed these changes is a testament to the hard work of my team in making their introduction as seamless as possible.
How will the reforms enable real and lasting change?
Here at NHS Blithering we are right behind the government’s commitment to build back better. Over the coming months and years expect to see a number of equally powerful pledges from my team. My strategic lead for meaningful commitments and pledge co-development Martin Plackard and I have been working closely with a number of stakeholders, including a hand-picked member of the public, to actively listen to what you want. And we have actively heard what you had to say.
You told us you wanted us to “get on with it”, “leave us alone” and “go away”. In other words, you want us to
- Build on the success of the Five Year Forward View, the NHS Long Term Plan and all the other plans and strategies that mean so much to local people and communities
- Help you to live more independent lives knowing that we’re always there to hold your hand if you’d like us to
- Go the extra mile in your shoes or someone else’s to learn what it feels like to go on a journey together.
Is Blithering ready for the challenge?
We will continue to reflect in the strongest possible documents the government’s determination to tackle obesity and the other causes of ill health, level up society, improve the quality of social care services, address the challenge of mental health, and ensure that we use the resources we have for the benefit of all. The key is collaboration.
Thanks to the new duty to collaborate, working together will no longer be a vague aspiration but a clearly delineated set of principles and processes that all partners in the ICS will be expected to learn and follow. It would be wrong to pre-empt the forthcoming collaboration guidance and assurance framework, but by continuing to work together in shadow form we are confident that no other health economy is ahead of Blithering in terms of readiness preparedness.
We won’t get there overnight, but by aiming to work together with purpose we will begin to map out what future nights might look like.