• Department of Health publishes “shared delivery plan” for the next four years
  • Department to judge performance on metrics including reduction of emergency bed days
  • NHS leaders warned against cutting national bodies “to the bone”

The government has published the Department of Health’s priorities for the four remaining years of this parliament, including its high level key performance indicators.

In a “shared delivery plan” published on Friday afternoon, the DH identifies 10 objectives, including better out of hospital care, achieving financial balance and improving services through technology.

All departments agreed plans across government, as part of discussions ahead of the November spending review. They have all now been published.

The DH lists a number of key performance indicators against which it can be held to account.

One example is emergency bed days per 1,000 population, which stood at 43.6 in September 2015. The DH said it would “expect the number to fall over time”.

The proportion of people with a learning disability on the GP register receiving an annual health check was 44 per cent in 2013-14, and the DH said it would “expect later years to show a higher figure”.

The DH expects the number of trusts in special measures, currently 15, to fall over the next four years in total – although there may be increases during the period – and for the proportion of trusts rated “good” or “outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission to increase.

Other figures referenced in the plan include reducing childhood obesity and bridging the gap in life expectancy “across the social gradient”.

The plan also includes an objective relating to the DH’s own internal management, with a commitment to reducing its operating costs over the parliament.

As HSJ revealed earlier this month, the department plans to cut up to 650 jobs, and will relocate all its London based staff from its three offices around the city to new premises at 39 Victoria Street.

The delivery plan says the DH will work with other government departments “to develop ‘government hubs’… and ‘health hubs’ across the system, releasing land for housing where possible and participating in the development of the new commercial property model”.

Commenting on the plan, Jon Restell, chief executive of the NHS managers’ union Managers in Partnership, said the health service’s leaders needed to pay more attention to its workforce.

“National leaders and planners must take staff with them, and talk to trade unions, before hard decisions are made. If they don’t, there are much higher risks of a demotivated workforce, resistant to change, and of more industrial action, nationally and locally,” he said.

He also raised concerns about the planned DH cuts.

“National bodies cut to the bone are a serious risk to delivery of the government’s plans,” he said.

A DH spokesman said: “The shared delivery plan provides us with a clear set of shared objectives and priorities, firmly aligned with the Five Year Forward View.”