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Local NHS care review set to report back next year

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the review in his autumn statement (Jane Barlow/PA)
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the review in his autumn statement (Jane Barlow/PA)

A planned review of local NHS care by former health secretary Patricia Hewitt, announced in the autumn statement on Thursday, is scheduled to report back in the new year.

Full details of the planned review, which will see Ms Hewitt work with local health leaders and was announced by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt as part of his budget package for the NHS, were announced by the Department of Health on Friday evening.

The department said that an interim report will come out before the end of the year, with the integrated care system review set to look at whether a smaller number of national targets could “empower” local health officials and offer “greater autonomy”.

It will also consider how local performance can be “better monitored” and how to ensure new local NHS bodies are “held robustly to account”.

Ms Hewitt, who chairs the Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System, said: “Despite the many challenges we face, I am excited by how much has already been achieved in many different systems, including in Norfolk and Waveney, and optimistic about what our partnerships can do in future as we respond to the different needs of our own communities.

“This review will focus on how national policy and regulation can most effectively support and enable local systems to solve problems locally.”

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach dictated from a ministerial office, local leaders are best placed to make decisions about their local populations and I want to empower them to find innovative solutions to tackle problems and improve care for patients.

“Fewer top-down national targets and greater transparency will help us deliver this aim.”

In the Commons on Thursday, Mr Hunt told MPs that the Government wanted “Scandinavian quality alongside Singaporean efficiency, both better outcomes for citizens and better value for taxpayers”.

NHS England Chair Richard Meddings welcomed the review.

“With both the economy and the NHS facing tough challenges ahead, it’s absolutely right that we continue to find more innovative ways to ensure all our systems are working as efficiently as possible,” he said.