|Cautious welcome, with warning of potential issues|
Responding to NHS England’s Next steps on the five year forward view, Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said: ‘We welcome the fact that this plan sets a clear course for the NHS over the next couple of years. We should, though, be under no illusions about how tough the going will be.
‘Hospitals are now under pressure all year round and so the ambition to improve A&E performance and other key services within the current budget is extremely ambitious. Putting the onus on the NHS and local authorities to work together to improve social care and free up hospital beds is the right approach. But with growing pressures on both services, expecting 2,000 to 3,000 hospital beds to be freed up is optimistic.
‘We strongly support the plan’s aim to “make the biggest national move towards integrated care of any major western country”. This should be done across England rather than being limited to a small number of areas. NHS England and its partners need to be bolder in supporting NHS organisations and their partners to put in place the population-based health systems which offer the best hope of delivering better outcomes and improving efficiency’. …… ‘. With almost no growth in the NHS budget from next year, the government will need to revisit the NHS funding settlement to deliver the commitments set out in this plan’.