Today, I laid before Parliament my first Annual Assessment of the NHS Commissioning Board (known as NHS England) 2013-14. The National Health Service Commissioning Board Annual Report & Accounts 2013-14 was also laid (HC408). Together they describe an organisation that has established itself and made progress in delivering the Government’s mandate, but has more to do to deliver all of its objectives. Copies of both documents are available to honourable Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office.
The mandate to NHS England sets the Government’s ambitions for the NHS as well as the funding available to achieve and deliver the care people need and expect. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 requires the mandate to be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that it remains up to date.
It has never been more important to provide the NHS with stability and continuity of purpose than now. And that is why the Government proposes to uphold all of the existing objectives in the current mandate, and maintain a stable mandate for 2015/16, to enable the NHS to build on its achievements and make further progress on the ambitious agenda already set.
Meanwhile, the challenges facing the NHS and wider health and care system for 2015-16 remain, with an ageing population and an increase in the numbers of people with long-term conditions. We want to see the NHS make further progress in transforming primary care to improve services for older people and those with the most complex needs, and on delivering a system-wide response to the Francis Inquiry recommendations, while from 2015-16, joining up health and social care through the Better Care Fund will be key to transforming care.
Within the stable mandate, as part of its existing objective to make progress towards parity of esteem for mental health, NHS England is working with the Department to fulfil its commitment to develop a range of costed options for new access and/or waiting time standards for mental health services, in order to implement these standards starting from April 2015, with a phased approach depending on affordability.
The NHS has generally been performing well and meeting demand despite increasing pressure on services. A stable mandate will allow the NHS to focus on maintaining its performance in providing high quality, compassionate, and joined-up care now and in the future.
In addition, this summer we will be reviewing the NHS outcomes framework. The review has two aims: to update the framework for 2015-16 by improving, adding and removing existing indicators, and to indicate a direction of travel for future indicator development. Reviewing the NHS outcomes framework this year is also an opportunity to increase alignment between the framework and the objectives in the mandate given the commitment to stability for the Mandate for 2015-16.
We have been working closely with NHS England on the approach to the mandate and the review of the outcomes framework, and will be engaging with stakeholders over the summer, ahead of publication in the autumn.