Many newspapers are reporting new planning guidance for the NHS released by the NHS Commissioning Board, which it says will "drive a revolution for patients…giving them greater control of their health."
It's a substantial document and different papers focus on different areas – BBC News focuses on the recommendation that the NHS provides services seven days a week, while The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph focus on the announcement that more surgical outcome data will be made available.
The new guidance is published by the NHS Commissioning Board, a new body set up as part of the government's NHS reform programme, which will oversee the spending of England's £95.6bn NHS budget from April 2013.
Among the many initiatives and changes it sets out, the following are likely to be seen as especially pertinent to NHS patients:
'Everyone counts: Planning for Patients 2013/14' has been published by the NHS Commissioning Board, which will take on its full responsibilities from April 1 2013 and has the main aim of improving health outcomes for people in England.
In discussing the role of the NHS Commissioning Board (NHS CB), Sir David Nicholson, chief executive of the NHS and NHS CB, says: "At the heart of our approach is local control over decision making. We want to put power in the hands of clinicians who know their patients best. We want to give them money, information and tools to do the job. And we want the public to have the information they need to make choices and participate fully in the development of their health services."
In addition to the budget for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), the NHS Commissioning Board will fund some services for the first time from April 2013, including:
It puts the budget for these services at £25.4bn, a 2.6% increase for the same services for the 2012/13 period.
The NHS Commissioning Board has provided five "offers" to NHS commissioners (those who fund services) to give them the guidance and evidence they need to produce better local health outcomes.
The guidance outlines that from 2013 it will be a requirement to publish clinical measures – including survival rates – from national audits for consultants (specialist medical doctors) across the following 10 medical and surgical specialties:
The report says this data will allow comparisons to be made across hospitals by 2014/15 and help patients choose the best care for them. It is likely that the data will be made available on the NHS Choices website.