New NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens will today identify older people’s services, joint working between health and social care, whistleblowing, and medical advances as among his top priorities.
Mr Stevens starts the role today and will give a speech in Newcastle after visiting services in the North East, in a tour designed to highlight how the NHS needs to develop. He began his NHS career as a management trainee at Shotley Bridge Hospital, Consett, in County Durham.
He will visit the hospital, a GP-led medical centre which offers long opening hours and online booking, an “integration pioneer” site in South Shields, and the International Centre for Life, in Newcastle.
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Mr Stevens is expected to say he plans to begin his new job by “listening” to what people thought needed to be done. However, in recent months he has had talks with many NHS leaders, and was also expected to use his speech to identify several priorities on which he believes there is consensus. These include “action to raise standards of care for older people, better joint working between health and social care, and new models of care delivery harnessing new advances in medicine”.
“I know that for the NHS the stakes have never been higher,” Mr Stevens will say. “Service pressures are intensifying, and longstanding problems are not going to disappear overnight. Successfully navigating the next few years is going to take a team effort – involving the biggest team in the biggest effort the NHS has ever seen.
“Today we face new challenges, and will need new solutions, while holding on to the vital gains of the past. Fortunately over the years the NHS has shown a proven ability to rise to the occasion.
“We know that the quality of NHS care is usually very high – but occasionally it isn’t, and we all want that to change. We know we’re going to need patients and carers to help redesign care. And that an NHS with a ‘like it or lump it’ attitude will simply not survive.
“We know that of course not every whistleblower will always get it right, but the fact is: patients’ lives are saved when courageous people speak up – openly and honestly – and when each of us takes personal accountability for putting things right.
“We also know that – increasingly – quality isn’t just about the individual test result or prescription or hospital stay, it’s about how all the pieces come together.
“An ageing population with more chronic health conditions, but with new opportunities to live as independently as possible, means we’re going to have to radically transform how care is delivered outside hospitals. Our traditional partitioning of health services– GPs, hospital outpatients, [accident and emergency] departments, community nurses, emergency mental health care, out of hours units, ambulance services and so on – no longer makes much sense.”
Mr Stevens was expected to say: “At all times our guiding principle will be: walk in the shoes of the people we serve. Think like a patient, act like a tax payer.
“Amazingly, one in three of the children born across England this very day are likely to live to celebrate their 100th birthday. Our mission is to ensure that a caring, compassionate and modern NHS is there for them throughout their lives, every step of the way.”