Four clear areas for recommendations will take forward the NHS Future Forum’s remit to inform the government’s reforms.
This workstream will focus on ensuring the NHS remains involved in improving “the public’s health” when health improvement budgets transfer to local authorities.
The workstream is co-chaired by Vicky Bailey, chief operating officer of commissioning social enterprise Principia, and pharmacist and clinical network lead for NHS Lambeth Ash Soni.
Mr Soni told HSJ it was “really critical” that the NHS, especially emerging clinical commissioning groups, did “not lose sight of public health” – a concern previously raised by organisations including the Faculty of Public Health.
He also said the forum would gather evidence on interventions that could be rolled out nationally, adding: “It’s about how we industrialise it. That may be ‘nudge [theory]’, that may be other things.”
Mr Soni said the group would focus on implementing themes set out in the public health white paper and subsequent Public Health Bill, rather than directly influencing the wording of legislation.
A briefing document states: “As responsibility for health improvement moves to local government, the forum will consider how to ensure that improving the public’s health remains at the heart of the NHS, and how the NHS can drive improvements.”
Recommendations from the listening exercise will feed into the Department of Health’s long awaited information strategy.
The workstream is to be co-chaired by Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of the patient group National Voices, and Professor David Haslam, president of the British Medical Association.
Professor Haslam said he was keen to find out “what the anxieties are, as well as what the opportunities are”. A summary of more than 700 responses to the Department of Health’s consultation on an “information revolution”, published last week, identified widespread concern that increasing use of technology would widen inequalities in access to healthcare.
“I absolutely agree,” said Professor Haslam. “It’s a question of working out ways that the less enabled are able to get the same levels of information.”
There are also “massive concerns” about confidentiality and the need to balance it with better data on care quality for both patients and clinicians, he said.
Education and training
Julie Moore, who will chair the Future Forum’s new work on education and training, has described a “patchiness” in the quality of provision around the country.
The chief executive of University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust also led the forum’s earlier work on the subject. She said that while some employers were concerned about the quality of education on offer, others were “quite delighted” with it.
Ms Moore also said she was “shocked” during the forum’s first listening exercise to learn some staff had had no professional development during their careers.
She added that education and training systems must be flexible, acknowledging healthcare would change over a clinician’s working life, and that clinical staff should be enabled to adapt their skills during their career.
Ms Moore has been asked to examine how a new system can be devised for training “beyond the job”; to stimulate a culture of professional development and academic research; encourage partnerships between local agencies, and improve the quality of information on education and training.
Promotion of integration between the health and social care sectors, as well as different levels of the NHS itself, will be looked at by a new Future Forum workstream.
The integration strand will be co-chaired by Geoff Alltimes, chief executive of Hammersmith Council, and Robert Varnam, a Manchester GP who helped establish the Royal College of GPs’ centre for commissioning.
It will look at the potential for “greater integration” between healthcare providers, between primary care and secondary care, and between NHS, public health and social care services.
Dr Varnam said the workstream wanted to find “answers to the big questions about improving integration”.
The group’s work will link with a separate listening exercise on social care and feed into the forthcoming social care white paper, as well as the government’s response to the Dilnot review of long term care funding.