I have led the work on the Dalton Review for a couple of months now, and it has been an exciting and fascinating piece of work. So far we have worked closely with different people within the health sector, including think tanks, academics, chief executives, clinicians and policy experts to set out the aims and scope of the Review. The energy and enthusiasm for this Review has been fantastic, with lots of useful academic evidence coming in.
While this has been invaluable, we want to start the conversation with those that matter most – you, the people who use NHS services.
One of the challenges with this review is that some of the issues it covers are quite complex and technical: management contracts, franchise models, joint ventures, service level chains and so on. To understand which of those are relevant, we need to first understand what is important to you as patients and as members of your local community.
Sir David is clear that the principles that guide our work are simple: those who provide care should be led by the needs of local communities; these organisations are accountable for the quality and safety of that care; and that the quality of care patients receive should get ever better.
My family live in a northern seaside town whose local hospital has recently been in special measures for quality issues. My cousin has a four year old son who has severe asthma and has been hospitalised five times this year already, and my family rely heavily on the services it provides. I understand the passion and commitment people feel to their local hospital, GP practice and district nursing service, and I also understand the concerns that feeling you may not be able to access good care locally can bring.
It cannot be right that people who live in certain areas of England do not get access to the same level of safe and high quality services as those that live elsewhere. Sir David is clear that his aim for the Review is to make recommendations that will help excellent organisations share what that they do as widely as possible, while at the same time helping the whole of the NHS to improve the quality of the services they deliver to their patients and local population. We think that using different organisational structures is one way of doing this.
That is why we are asking for contributions from as wide a group of people as possible. We have set out some questions that we feel will help different people and organisations contribute their thoughts and views to the review. We want to hear from you.
Your comments, ideas and suggestions will not only help inform Sir David’s recommendations, but will also ensure that those issues that matter most to patients and the public are there for all to see.