DoH must remove barriers to NHS integration, says NHS Future Forum

The government should allow local flexibility in NHS tariffs to help 'align incentives' for integration in the health service, the NHS Future Forum has recommended.

Prof Field: allowing ‘tariff flexibilities’ locally
Prof Field: allowing ‘tariff flexibilities’ locally

In a letter to health secretary Andrew Lansley, NHS Future Forum chairman Professor Steve Field said existing financial incentives within the NHS can make it difficult to introduce integrated models of care.

He urged the government to address this by allowing ‘tariff flexibilities’ locally. ‘This could include varying the tariff for a certain period of time if there are concerns that it may act as a barrier to implementing new models of care which are better for patients, quality and efficiency,’ he wrote.

‘We would also urge the DoH to set the scene in the NHS operating framework in championing and allowing for better ways of delivering seamless, integrated care for individuals, through the transition.’

The letter follows a suggestion from Professor Field that the quality premium could be used to encourage integration. The quality premium is a bonus payment the DoH plans to offer to commissioning groups that improve outcomes and hit financial targets.

Professor Field also called for the NHS operating framework to emphasise the importance of good quality information in the health service.

He said he hoped to see 'significant progress’ in allowing patients better online access to services as well as their health records, including the summary care record.

Mr Lansley said the NHS Future Forum had provided ‘invaluable feedback’ and insight from patients and staff about what the NHS should do to improve outcomes.

‘The interim advice and recommendations are very useful and we will take them into consideration before we publish the 2012/13 NHS operating framework and further details about the new public health system,' he said.

'This shows the importance of engaging with patients and staff to ensure services are designed around patients. I look forward to the Forum’s final report later in the year.’

The 2012/13 NHS operating framework is expected to be published within the next month.

NHS Future Forum interim recommendations to the government:

  • Align incentives to promote integrated care.
  • Encourage seamless integrated care.
  • Ensure the importance of information is emphasised to the NHS.
  • Give patients better online access to services and to their health and care records.
  • Explain how commissioners can obtain population health advice.
  • Ensure consistency and alignment between the outcomes set for the NHS and public health.
  • Quality of services that improve public health must be maintained during the transition to the new public health system.
  • Provide clarity on who will be responsible for all aspects of public health protection.

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