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NHS pledges to put patients first

Health Secretary Andy Burnham has launched his strategy for the NHS pledging to improve the quality of care and put patients first

Health Secretary Andy Burnham has launched his strategy for the NHS from 2010 to 2015 – NHS 2010-2015: from good to great. Preventative, people-centred, productive – pledging to improve the quality of care and put patients first.

The report lays out changes planned for the NHS over the next five years. It says that patients and the public will have a clear set of rights and will have full choice of primary and secondary care services. Burnham says that early diagnosis of cancer and other life-threatening conditions will be much improved and more services such as availability of GP appointments in the evenings and at weekends will be provided in the community or in the home.

The Pre-Budget Report confirmed that a substantial increase in funding for the NHS would be locked in to frontline budgets for the two years that follow.

Waiting times targets will become permanent rights in the NHS Constitution and patients will be given more choice, convenience and control over their care.

"For the NHS to become truly great, it must become more preventative and people-centred," Burnham said.

"Lord Darzi's vision to put quality at the heart of the NHS is fast becoming a reality across the country. This means top quality care is our goal and patient safety our top priority. This is right for our times. Quality care is not always about spending more money, but about spending it in the right places. Moving care from hospitals into homes and communities is better for patients and more efficient," he continued.

New measures outlined in the report include:
· The abolition of GP practice boundaries along with greater access to GP services in the evenings and weekends
· A hospital payment system linked to patient satisfaction
· Greater access to personal care plans allowing patients to choose care that suits their needs
· A legal right to maximum waiting times
· The right to commence treatment with a consultant within 18 weeks of a GP referral and the right to be seen by a cancer specialist within two weeks of a GP referral.

The full report - NHS 2010-2015: from good to great. Preventative, people-centred, productive - can be viewed on the Department of Health website.

The NHS Operating Framework, which will set out NHS priorities for the next year, is due to be published next week.

10th December 2009

From: Healthcare

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