Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
A Healthier Wales committed to the development of a National Clinical Plan. It was intended to set out how specialist services and hospital-based services should be provided, and the skills and technologies needed to support them, as part of the broader health and social care offer. Therefore, I am pleased to bring forward today the publication of this document and describe how it will become integral to NHS planning in the years ahead. I would like to thank all those clinicians that have contributed to its development and to offer my support to its key messages.
In developing a document that sought to address the historic challenges facing NHS services and the opportunities described in the Parliamentary Review and our prudent healthcare philosophy, it was clear that these challenges and opportunities could only be grasped by looking beyond specialist care and hospital based services. More than ever, we need to plan services across professional and organisational boundaries. Therefore this A Healthier Wales commitment has quite rightly been broadened in scope to all clinical services and clinicians.
The Framework is also being published at a very difficult time for NHS services and staff, as they respond to the pandemic. Nonetheless it is important that this Framework is published now because its approach and its messages seek to capitalise on what has been achieved over the past year and provide the NHS with the guidance it needs to continue to transform services. The Framework has important implications for how clinical services should develop and this will directly support the recovery agenda. It will ensure that recovery is more than just additional activity and will help our health system to avoid resetting to unsustainable delivery models.
This National Clinical Framework is a vital part of a much broader effort that was described in A Healthier Wales. It is about how clinical services in our NHS fit into that wider picture and how we can begin to realise our ambitions through the development of a learning health and care system. It seeks to unleash the revolution from within that is needed to deliver prudent and value based healthcare. It recognises that greater central direction is needed to make that behaviour and philosophy a reality. The Framework sets out a health system that is co-ordinated nationally and delivered locally or through regional collaborations. It will be underpinned by a suite of new commitments outlined in ‘Quality Statements’, another commitment made in A Healthier Wales.
Prototype quality statements are being published alongside this Framework for cancer and heart conditions. They provide the next level of detail for specific clinical services and will replace the cancer and heart conditions delivery plans. Future tranches of quality statements will be developed to set out policy expectations for other key clinical services and to support the planning of NHS services, in line with the principles and behaviours set out in the National Clinical Framework. These quality statements are aligned to the population’s burden of disease and will support service transformation in these areas. Ultimately, they will seek to improve the quality of clinical services and thereby the outcomes they achieve. They exist alongside and integrate with other cross-cutting policy commitments on disease prevention, access to diagnostic services and good end of life care provision.
A significant amount of work will be required in the coming years to make the vision of the National Clinical Framework and their underpinning Quality Statements a reality. This will be delivered at the national level through our NHS planning framework, our accountability arrangements with NHS bodies, supported by our national programmes and clinical networks. In addition, local NHS bodies will need to respond to the Framework with their own clinical service planning, quality improvement approaches and prudent in practice behaviours. At the heart of this new approach will be the role of the NHS Executive function and expectations set out in nationally agreed clinical pathways. The Framework will act as the keystone approach and requires a fundamental reappraisal of how NHS clinical services are planned and delivered in order to deliver prudent and value based healthcare.