Viewpoint - Professor Steve Field

Writing exclusively for GP, the NHS Future Forum's chairman Professor Steve Field explains the group's ongoing work.

Professor Field: 'Getting the policy right at this stage gives us a chance to genuinely improve the care the NHS delivers.'
Professor Field: 'Getting the policy right at this stage gives us a chance to genuinely improve the care the NHS delivers.'

The NHS Future Forum's report on the listening exercise earlier this year led to substantial improvements to the Health Bill. Now the forum's membership has been expanded and refreshed to allow it to listen and advise on four new areas of work.

The prime minister David Cameron launched the second phase of the NHS Future Forum in Cumbria last week by visiting the home of a patient with COPD who receives her care from primary care clinicians and rarely needs to go to hospital. The significance of this visit was more than a photo opportunity.

In the 40 minutes Mr Cameron spent with the patient and a nurse, he saw just one example of how successfully care can be integrated around a patient. This is one of the main ambitions for the NHS of the future.

Not only does integrated care give our patients the healthcare they need but it will prove to be the most effective way of treating a growing number of people living longer with long-term conditions.

I was delighted to accompany the Prime Minister to Carlisle. We shared a few cups of tea and met local people in a community centre. We learned about how clinically led commissioning had already begun to make a difference to the lives of people across Cumbria.

It struck me that while the local GPs were providing great leadership and were being supported by high quality managers it was an area where everyone was pulling together including those in the local authority all for the good of their local citizens.

I came away buzzing with ideas and examples of great care.

Improving care
Getting the policy right at this stage gives us a chance to genuinely improve the care the NHS delivers.

It means we can start using information to empower patients and drive improved and integrated care. Our biggest asset, our workforce, needs the best education and training to equip it to work in a world-class health system.

We want to keep our population and our staff healthy, so we need to locate the public's health at the heart of the NHS.

Finally, we cannot take the NHS forward unless we integrate care around the needs of patients.

There are huge opportunities to make services more integrated as well as potential for greater integration between health care providers, primary and secondary care and between NHS, public health and social care services.

Primary care has an increasingly central role in how we deliver NHS services so we need to hear from you in this next phase of listening.

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