Many of our members will be unhappy with the recent NHS prioritisation recommendations. To make sure that the system doesn’t keep producing decisions that are unsatisfactory for patients, the new prioritisation framework for 2015/16 needs to work in the interest of patients.
With this aim in mind, Genetic Alliance UK responded to the NHS England consultation “Investing in specialised services” in April 2015. The consultation looked at NHS England’s set of ‘principles’ on which future decision making about the investment in specialised services will be made. NHS England has now released their response to the consultation.
NHS England’s response suggests that they will not be making any major changes to the framework as a result of the consultation. Whilst we welcome some aspects of the principles and processes proposed, such as greater stakeholder involvement in the development of policy proposals - the framework they have outlined may not go far enough in achieving their organisational promises to be “open and transparent”, to “prioritise patients in every decision” and “listen and learn”.
The response from NHS England lacks the level of detail that patients deserve in relation to such an important consultation. Recent events have highlighted just how important it is to patients to get this framework right. In response to the ‘principles’ section, our response (which consisted of over 2000 words) was met with two sentences, barely scratching the surface of the areas that need deep thought from NHS England.
There are overarching problem areas that need to be addressed within NHS England’s prioritisation, and many of these have not been responded to. For example, in our response to the consultation, we have highlighted that staff time is a limiting factor for the NPOC Boards in deciding what gets put on to the annual work plan. This issue will worsen over time as there is already a backlog, and this will vastly limit NHS England’s ability to appraise the majority of specialised treatments and interventions. This highly important issue has not been recognised in NHS England’s response to the consultation.
We are extremely disappointed that our concerns over the involvement of ‘affordability’ of interventions has not been addressed. The consideration of affordability for treatments in earlier stages of the appraisal process, may disqualify these new and innovative interventions from being fully evaluated due to them being deemed too expensive before their value can be assessed.
If you would like more information or if you would like to talk to us about this topic, please contact our policy and communications assistant, Beth.