New services for patients in south east as part of national NHS plan

Friday 31st March, 2017

The NHS in England has today (Friday) set out how it will meet the priorities of patients and the public across the region over the next two years by better integrating health and care services.

Patients in the South East will see services increasingly delivered in a joined-up way, helping to deliver greater access to services in primary care and in patients’ own homes, as well as more options for accessing urgent care.

Two-and-a-half years on since the publication of the widely-welcomed NHS Five Year Forward View, the NHS Delivery Plan sets out the changes which will take place across the health service in key areas:

Boosting mental health services – A national commitment to end out-of-area care placements for children and young people by increasing the number of beds available by 10%. Mental health services for new mothers will also be increased and more mental health professionals in the community and hospitals will help prevent crisis admissions by ensuring more patients get help sooner. Procurement is under way for a mother-and-baby mental health unit to serve the South East.

Alongside this, NHS England has offered £30m funding to 74 sites who have successfully bid to achieve the ‘Core 24’ standard for mental health liaison, meaning a fully staffed team operating 24/7 in a hospital, offering a one hour response to emergency mental health referrals in A&E. In the South East the successful sites are:

  • Medway Maritime Hospital
  • Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate

Improved cancer care - aimed at saving and additional 5,000 lives a year across England, patients in will have access to state-of-the-art linear accelerator radiotherapy machines, as well as new national screening programmes for bowel cancer. Funding for linear accelerators has been confirmed as going to:

  • Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust
  • Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Better access to GP services - with every area of the country benefiting from extended opening in the evenings and weekends by March 2019.

Dr James Thallon, Medical Director for NHS England in the South East, said:

“Today’s announcement sets out how services will be improved for patients over the next two years, whether it’s better access to family doctors, cancer treatment or mental health care.

“We’ll be working closely with local health and care leaders and frontline staff as they now work in partnership to deliver on the priorities that patients and members of the public have told us matter most to them.”

The national plan sets out the imperative to break down barriers between NHS organisations and wrap services around patients, rather than passing them from pillar to post.

It describes how learning from the 50 ‘vanguard’ projects across England will be adopted by Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships to deliver better, more joined-up care that aims to keep patients, and particularly the frail and elderly, well in their own home and out of hospital.

The plan also sets out how national and local bodies will take action to increase efficiency and tackle waste to ensure that more of the increasing, but constrained, NHS budget is invested in the improved services and extra staff that patients want, including the latest treatments and technology.

Launching the Delivery Plan, NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens said:

“Heading into its 70th year, the public’s admiration for the NHS has never been stronger, but at the same time – because of its success – expectations and demands have never been higher.

“Even at a time of significant challenges, just as it has before the NHS can meet those expectations and deliver on the priorities of patients and the public: making it easier to see a GP when you need it, providing world-leading treatment for cancer and mental health problems, and reducing pressure on emergency care and hospital beds.

“Regardless of financial pressures, making these pledges a reality for patients depends on local services working much closer together, jointly planning how resources are best used to better prevent and treat illness across their local areas.

“We know it works – where areas have been pioneering things like enhanced support in care homes and more services being delivered in the community, they have showed that the NHS can keep people well closer to home and reduce preventable hospital stays.

“It’s now time for patients in every part of the country to benefit from these much more sensible ways of delivering care, and this plan sets out how we’ll work with them and staff to make that happen.”


As with the Five Year Forward View, the NHS Delivery Plan represents the joint priorities of all national health bodies in England – NHS England, NHS Improvement, Public Health England, Health Education England, NICE, NHS Digital and the Care Quality Commission – and has been developed in consultation with council leaders and professional and voluntary groups.

The document outlines significant progress made over the last three years, including record high cancer survival rates, 8,000 extra doctors and nurses significantly improving nurse-to- staff ratios, the first ever waiting time standards for mental health treatment being introduced and met, and cutting waste – in particular agency staffing bills.

It also acknowledges areas where progress has not been as quick, such as funding for transformation and capital being used to balance Trust finances and rising pressure on A&E and acute wards caused by delayed transfers of care, as well as the deepening external challenges posed by the strained social care system and the rising impact of preventable illnesses linked to smoking and obesity.

Despite the financial constrains facing the NHS, the Delivery Plan reaffirms a commitment to addressing the three gaps identified in the Five Year Forward View – public health, quality of care and financial sustainability – and sets out how local NHS organisations and their partners working together will be instrumental in delivering the key improvements demanded by patients. 

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