2013 has been another turbulent year in health and care. The widening gap between demand and funding has revealed problems aplenty. We have been living through the massive organizational changes created by the 2012 Act. And the year has been overshadowed by the Francis Report on mid Staffordshire and all the reviews and reactions that came in its wake, including a major reform of regulation.
The politics of health and care have been acrimonious and Jeremy Hunt has adopted a highly activist stance as Secretary of State, choosing not to leave the new “arm’s length” bodies at arm’s length. In the thick of all this turbulence, National Voices has continued to champion a stronger voice and role for patients, carers, communities and the voluntary sector. I am proud of the work we have done together with our members. Here are some highlights.
- Our Narrative for Coordinated Care has been adopted as a single, system-wide definition of integrated care from the point of view of the service user. It has helped change the conversation about “integration” and we are now developing further versions of it.
- Together with the Action for Long Term Conditions Coalition we have started to give the House of Care approach real traction. This is a model for supporting people with long term conditions which gives centre stage to personalised care and support planning, supported self management and partnership working. We have helped NHS England make this a growing theme of their work which will also be showcased at the NHS Innovation Expo next March.
- The Government committed to introducing a legal duty of candour, so that care organizations would have to come clean with patients and their families when something went wrong. This was a recommendation of Robert Francis that reflected campaigning by National Voices and other members, in particular AvMA.
- With more than 160 members and other stakeholders we have developed a set of principles for care and support planning and a guide for patients and professionals to put the principles into practice. This work is now referenced in NHS England’s statutory guidance on participation.
- We collaborated with the NHS Confederation and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to produce “Changing Care: Improving Quality”: a guide to reconfiguration whose wisdom is likely to be increasingly drawn upon as major service design is pursued across the NHS.
- We advised the NHS Leadership Academy on the design of three new leadership programmes to ensure they keep a strong focus on safe, high-quality people centred care.
- We piloted a successful patient leadership programme with the Centre for Patient Leadership, working with individuals nominated by our members.
- We sat at a number of important top tables – for example the Caldicott review of information governance, Sir Bruce Keogh’s reviews of 14 hospitals and of A&E, and the expert working group on the NHS Constitution.
- For the third year running I was nominated as one of the HSJ’s top 100 influencers in health – personally flattering, but in reality a reflection of National Voices’ collective achievements as an organization and a coalition.
In 2014 National Voices will continue to push for more person-centred care and support, building on all the work we have done in our 5 year history. We will be strengthening our relationships of influence, doing more work with our members and honing positions in the run up to the 2015 general election. We hear the echoes of our own campaigning in Jeremy Hunt’s recent remarks about the need for a “revolution in out of hospital care”. We will be doing our bit to bring about that revolution. There remains a mountain to climb. There is still a chasm between the rhetoric and reality of “putting patients first” and there can be no room for complacency in a world where vulnerable people can suffer appalling neglect, vital services are cut, and more and more people have to rely on food banks.
To all of you who are striving to make the world a healthier and more caring place, and most especially to National Voices’ loyal members, I wish you a very merry Christmas.