Simon Stevens: Acute bed base must grow and ‘some areas have no answers’
After confirming that he intends to remain in post for at least another year, NHS England chief Simon Stevens made a prediction which marks the clearest change yet from a long-standing policy. In a wide-ranging speech to delegates at the NHS Confederation conference in Manchester, Mr Stevens said he expected the NHS would need to increase its acute bed base over the next five years.
The NHS long-term plan hinted at this but was less explicit. Mr Stevens went on to say hospitals’ bed stock is “overly pressurised” and that “increased capacity” is likely to be needed.
In his sixth appearance at the Confed conference, he highlighted the successes of the past 12 months and where progress still needs to be made. While the NHS has seen 780,000 more A&E patients within four hours, better alignment between community health services and social care, improved cancer outcomes and the improvements in the availability of mental health services for common mental health disorders, there is a lot of work still to be done.
Announcing the publication next week of the implementation framework for the NHS Long Term Plan, he said NHS organisations need to chart their own course for implementing the key improvements using the national support that the framework will set out. But he said it will also be upfront about areas where there are currently no answers.
There will be a more transparent financial regime for trusts, more realistic control totals with rules-based, predictable regime so that all financial routes will be visible across organisations, he said.
Taking better care of staff, being more flexible employers and ensuring HR is seen as a key discipline for the NHS were all key points throughout the plenary, as well as a recognition that the NHS needs to play a wider role in the community in areas such as reducing air pollution and knife crime. On that note, he announced the appointment of the NHS’s first clinical director of violence reduction, consultant trauma surgeon Martin Griffiths.
Simon Stevens at Confed 19
Niall Dickson and Confed-Expo merger
Right at the end of his section, Stevens playfully hijacked session chair Niall Dickson’s autocue by reading out the Confed CEO’s own specially prepared announcement (the merger of the Confed and Expo conferences). We’ll watch this space for 2020 plans.