The proposed mandate for the NHS Commissioning Board makes better information and "transparent and integrated IT" one of its 22 objectives.
The draft mandate, issued for consultation this morning by health secretary Andrew Lansley, says the board should “improve the quality and availability of information about NHS services."
It also says this should be done "with the goal of having comprehensive, transparent and integrated IT and information, to drive improved care and better health outcomes.”
The objective comes in at 14 on the 22 item list, behind objectives to secure additional years of life for people in England, to reduce inequalities, improve people’s experience of the NHS, and deliver on the latest reforms, for example by getting an effective commissioning system in place.
Later objectives focus on finances, and charge the board with extending NHS pricing so commissioners can commission for outcomes, and supporting “changes in services” where these can secure local and political support.
In the past two days, both the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the National Audit Office have warned that the financial outlook for the NHS is grim, and that services will decline and trusts fail if they do not deliver major increases in productivity by the end of the decade.
Objective 22 of the mandate says that the NHS CB should: “ensure the delivery of efficiency (QIPP) savings in a sustainable manner, to maintain or improve quality in the current spending review period and beyond.”
The mandate is supposed to make the NHS CB accountable to the health secretary for the performance of the NHS, while giving it the freedom to operate without day to day political interference.
Launching it, Lansley said: “The mandate will focus on holding the health service to account for results that make a difference to people.”
The consultation comes with a number of annexes detailing how progress against the objectives might be assessed.
On objective 14, the annexes say 'key measures for assessing progress' will include whether there is "easy and quick access to patient records" for both patients and professionals, and whether there is "increased use of technology to improve care and make health services easier to interact with (eg the ability for people to book appointments online."
Other measures will include whether there are "fast and efficient transfer of information through different healthcare settings, supported by the use of information standards", more quality indicators, and "comprehensive information on health services and health, including support for people using information at a local level."
The new chair of the NHS CB, Malcolm Grant, has told a number of recent conferences that he wanted a simple mandate – preferably one that “could be published in the Sun.”
Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the document that had emerged was encouraging in that “it keeps things relatively simple and consistent” and “does not seek to develop an ever-growing ‘wish list’ of objectives."
© 2012 EHealth Media.
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