Foreword from Celia Ingham Clark MBE, director for reducing premature mortality, NHS England
Taking on this job at the beginning of this year, I knew it would be a huge challenge. Although I am responsible for this programme of work at NHS England, we are not going to be able to reduce premature mortality without the combined and aligned efforts of not only people working in the NHS, but those in local authorities, community organisations, the third sector and beyond.
From an NHS perspective, to reduce early deaths we have to ensure the treatment and care we provide is of the highest standard, and also to make prevention and early diagnosis core to what the NHS does. This will in some places mean we need to shift mindsets and change cultures.
The NHS Health Check programme is central to the aim of reducing premature mortality, to promoting healthier lives and improving health outcomes in England. I am absolutely committed to supporting the roll out and improving the quality of NHS Health Checks, and working with you all to achieve that.
NHS England has been given the task, through the mandate, of delivering a programme aimed at supporting the early diagnosis of illness and reducing premature mortality, and in particular in supporting the NHS Health Check programme. We are working collaboratively with PHE at a national level on this commitment, and are focussing our efforts within NHS England on ensuring that the NHS follow up is of high quality and that patients are receiving the appropriate interventions following a NHS Health Check.
To determine our priorities for 2014-15 for this work, we led a workshop in March to discuss the factors impacting on the quality and effectiveness of follow up after the NHS Health Check. The workshop was attended by representatives from organisations including NHS England, PHE, NHS Improving Quality, Health Education England, the Royal College of General Practitioners and local government.
Matt Fagg, deputy director for reducing premature mortality for NHS England, introduced the session, giving the background on the current position on premature mortality in England, while Jamie Waterall, PHE national lead for the NHS Health Check programme, gave us the background and current position of the programme. A series of breakout sessions followed, allowing reflection and further discussion on how to support better engagement from the NHS in the Health Check programme, and particularly in increasing the quality of follow up.
The workshop proved an invaluable opportunity to discuss this work and has provided NHS England with a clear steer as to our two priorities to take forward in 2014-15:
i. Cement system-wide clinical leadership and engagement for the NHS Health Check programme through a joint communications and engagement strategy with PHE
What was clear from the workshop is the case for the NHS Health Check programme could be made stronger and targeted at primary care clinicians who are pivotal to the follow up. We need to ensure that there is clear and explicit clinical leadership and support nationally and through clinical leaders across the country to the successful delivery of the NHS Health Check programme and the way patients are followed up in the NHS.
ii. Develop joint commissioning guidance, tools and/or resources to support NHS Health Checks, and particularly the NHS follow up.
We need to ensure that NHS commissioners have the tools and resources they need to support the local need in following up from NHS Health Checks.
Work is now underway to ensure that we deliver these priorities in 2014-15.
It just leaves me to again say thank you for all the hard work you are doing in promoting prevention and early diagnosis through the NHS Health Check programme. I hope we can continue to build on successful partnership working between public health and the NHS at the national, regional and local levels to push it even further. We all have our part to play, and I know we can make a real difference to the health of the population.