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Protecting the NHS for tomorrow

Prime Minister David Cameron has delivered a speech on the future of the NHS, stating the case for change and outlining some of the proposed reforms.

Mr Cameron said hospital doctors and nurses will be involved in clinical commissioning and “clinical senates” will be introduced, where groups of doctors and healthcare professionals come together to take an overview of the integration of care across a wide area.

The health regulator, Monitor, will also now have a new duty to support the integration of services – whether that’s between primary and secondary care, mental and physical care, or health and social care.

The PM also confirmed that the coalition will retain existing targets such as the 18-week limit on waiting lists in England and the four-hour waiting limit in A&E but there will be an increased focus on the outcomes of treatment – such as hospital readmission rates.

In his speech, Mr Cameron also set out “five guarantees” on the future of the NHS which he said he expects to be held personally accountable on.

Mr Cameron pledged, as part of these guarantees, that there would be no cuts in NHS spending.

“We will not endanger universal coverage – we will make sure it remains a National Health Service,” he said.

“We will not break up or hinder efficient and integrated care – we will improve it. We will not lose control of waiting times – we will ensure they are kept low. We will not cut spending on the NHS – we will increase it.

“And if you’re worried that we are going to sell off the NHS and create some American-style private system – we will not. We will ensure competition benefits patients.

“These are my five guarantees. Guarantees you can hold me to and that I will be personally accountable for.”

Mr Cameron’s speech follows a two month ”listening exercise” to hear the public’s views on NHS reforms. He said ministers had “learned a lot about how to make our plans better” during the consultation process but he insisted that NHS modernisation remains essential.

“We have listened and engaged and not just heard what people have said but we are going to reflect it in what we are going to do. There are real changes being made to these health reforms to reflect the concerns of patients, doctors and nurses so we get that right.”

The NHS Future Forum, which was announced as part of the listening exercise,  will present its report to the government later this month.

Speeches and transcripts: PM’s speech on the NHS

Read more: Modernisation of health and care (Department of Health website)

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