The NHS Planning Guidance: play nicely - and do it quick
No one can say they have not been told now. The NHS Planning Guidance published yesterday makes a number of things very clear.
1. The money is really tight – this is hardly news – but emphasised by the two year planning and tariff arrangements. With everything else that needs to go on, the mandate is to deliver change with the money available; more of it is not an option (for the next two years at least).
2. STPs, Plans becoming Programmes, are cited the must-do service reform, the chosen vehicle, the golden thread – you get the idea. Do not even think of getting in their way or not making them happen. Any doubters will feel immediate material and adverse financial consequences. Clear enough?
3. To deliver STPs and to avoid meaningless "deficit deckchair rearrangements" (ie sinking health economies preoccupied with moving the deadly deficit parcel round the system), get all the contracts agreed by 31 December 2016, or else it will be the headmasters study.
This is an utterly serious united approach from Simon Stevens and Jim Mackey. That in itself is impressive. It is even more impressive because it is spelling out a really serious and difficult message – we have to reform at speed, and we do not have time for typical NHS turf wars – hear hear! Will it work? Probably not entirely, but if anyone doubted the urgency of our predicament this guidance is crystal clear – just do it!