Clinical leaders, health experts and ministers will convene in Downing Street for an NHS Recovery Forum today (Saturday 7 January).
In addition to his regular meetings on the health service, the Prime Minister will host the Forum to bring together experts from across the health and care sector to identify opportunities to go further and faster on improving performance and outcomes.
The Forum will major on four crucial issues: social care and delayed discharge; urgent and emergency care; elective care; and primary care.
Some of the best health and care minds in the country will use the session to share best practice and to understand whether any innovations developed at a local level could be applied to other regional areas or on a national basis.
As the Prime Minister set out in his speech earlier this week, innovation is at the heart of the government’s approach and will be a vital aspect of the solution, and so Forum attendees will include representatives from both the public and independent sector to ensure we’re harnessing a wide spread of expertise and talent.
The government say the Forum is the next step in the significant action that it has taken to improve outcomes and relieve the immediate pressures on the NHS and in social care caused by the pandemic, with further pressures due to the recent rise in covid and flu cases.
On improving capacity in the NHS, the government has provided an extra £500 million to speed up hospital discharge this winter and we’re also increasing bed capacity by the equivalent of 7,000 more beds.
The NHS is rolling out virtual wards across England, with an ambition to establish 40-50 virtual ward beds per 100k population, by December 2023. Virtual wards are where people, for example, who have acute respiratory infections can actually be treated at home with telemedicine or pulse oximeters and there is also a new fall service which can save about 55,000 ambulance call outs a year by treating people with falls at home.
In total, the government will invest up to £14.1 billion additional funding over the next two years to improve urgent and emergency care and tackle the backlog – the highest spend on health and care in any government’s history. £7.5 billion of this support is for adult social care and discharge over the next two years, which will also help deal with immediate pressures.
91 Community Diagnostic Centres have been opened so far and they have delivered over 2.7 million tests, checks and scans to help diagnose patients earlier.
The government says it is also continuing to grow the NHS workforce, with around 42,000 more staff than a year ago, including over 10,500 more nurses and almost 4,700 more doctors.
The government is investing at least £1.5 billion to create an extra 50 million general practice appointments by 2024, while the NHS is accelerating the rollout of new state-of-the-art telephone systems to make it easier for patients get through to their GP surgeries.
Earlier in the week, the Prime Minister set out one of his key promises that NHS waiting lists will fall and people will get the care they need more quickly. He also pledged to make sure the NHS is built around patients.
The Forum will run for the majority of Saturday and attendees will include chief executives and clinical leaders from NHS organisations, local areas and councils from across the country, clinical experts from Royal Colleges and independent sector organisations working with health and social care services to deliver services for patients.
The Health and Social Care Secretary, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NHS England will attend the Forum.
A Downing Street Spokesperson said:
As the Prime Minister made clear this week, easing the immediate pressures whilst also focussing on the long-term improvement of the NHS is one of his key promises.
That’s why we’re bringing together the best minds from the health and care sectors to help share knowledge and practical solutions so that we can tackle the most crucial challenges such as delayed discharge and emergency care.
We want to correct the unwarranted variation in NHS performance between local areas, because no matter where you live you should be able to access quality healthcare.