• Simon Stevens says public will want “new political leaders” to deliver on promise to increase NHS funding
  • NHS England chief executive says health service will ”continue to need and benefit” from the service of migrants
  • Mr Stevens will set out NHS “asks” for the government’s Brexit negotiations

Simon Stevens has declared that the public will want the next government to deliver on the promises of a “better funded” NHS made during the EU referendum campaign.

The NHS England chief executive, in an email to staff this morning, also stated:

  • He would set out a list of the NHS’s “asks” from government Brexit negotiations later this month.
  • The NHS will “continue to need and benefit from” the service of migrants from inside and outside the EU “in the years ahead”.
  • The service should “use this moment to let all our staff know how much we value their ongoing service” and called on NHS staff to “make it personal and reach out to [colleagues from the EU and elsewhere] direct”.
  • That NHS England would press on with its work regardless of the post-referendum political disruption.

Mr Stevens emailed staff to set out “what the result means for the NHS and for our work in the months ahead”.

One of the main arguments used by the Leave side during the referendum campaign was that withdrawing from the EU would free up an extra £350m to spend on the NHS. The Remain side disputed the £350m figure, and said Brexit would hurt the NHS by damaging the economy and reducing tax revenues.

In his email Mr Stevens said: “Both Leave and Remain campaigned for a strong - and indeed a better funded - NHS. So the public, regardless of how they voted, will rightly want our new political leaders to deliver on that promise.”

Turning to the issue of immigration, Mr Stevens said that there had been “high profile examples” in recent weeks where “entirely legitimate discussion” about the subject had been “exploited by a few extremists to unleash uglier impulses and reaction”.

“So as we celebrate the NHS’s 68th birthday tomorrow, it’s well worth recalling that there’s never been a single year in our history when alongside brilliant staff from this country, the health service has not also relied on committed employees from around the world.”

He said it was a “statement of the obvious” that the NHS would “continue to need and benefit from their service in the years ahead”.

Mr Stevens said that a range of NHS issues would have to be considered by the government in its Brexit negotiations, including “the movement and regulation of health professionals, procurement rules, medicines and devices, cross-border patient entitlements, and certain public health measures”.

To make sure “the NHS voice and patient interests are properly heard”, NHS England will establish an “NHS Europe transition team”, and Mr Stevens said he would set out “some of the likely NHS ‘asks’” when he appeared before the Commons health committee on 19 July.

For the rest of this year, he said NHS England’s priorities were “completely unchanged”.

“Rather than being distracted by the current Westminster swirl, we’re going to be using the coming months to get on with what NHS England was set up to deliver: a steady hand on the tiller, providing operationally-independent leadership for the NHS on behalf of patients and the public.”

The letter confirmed that NHS England and NHS Improvement are planning to announce a “series of 2016-17 ‘reset’ measures to deliver financial and operational improvement in CCGs, NHS trusts and foundation trusts”, expected in mid-July.

Mr Stevens referred to the letter from NHSI’s Jim Mackey and Ed Smith to NHS providers last week, which he said set out “the NHSI requirement of an aggregate provider deficit not to exceed c£250 million this year”. 

The wording actually used in the NHSI letter was that the “aggregate planned provider deficit stands at c£550m”, but that “we are aiming to get to c£250m deficit this year”.

Mr Stevens’ letter also said that the annual planning timetable for 2017-18 and potentially 2018-19 would be brought forward, probably linked to a new final STP submission deadline in October.