There are many words in which the phase we are moving into as a system is being described locally, regionally and nationally. Restoration, Recovery, Reset, Reform, Rebuild and Reinvention to name a few. However, there is another “R” word that needs to underpin all of our plans for how we manage the system over the months ahead – Responsive.
As a system, from an NHS point of view, we are finalising our recovery plan to submit to NHS England in June with the aim of returning performance across all services back to where we want it to be for our populations.
The size of the task of restoring and recovering services and performance should not be underestimated but we have already made good progress, with outpatients for example returning to pre-COVID activity and cancer performance on course to return by the end of July
As you would expect, there is rightly a focus nationally, regionally and across the system on meeting our constitutional targets and agreed performance metrics as part of our planning. There also needs to be a focus as we deliver the plan on ensuring we are equipped to be adaptive and agile in responding to the changing, and unforeseen, needs of our communities. As the Government has relaxed lockdown measures over the last few weeks, we have already begun to see growing demand emerge that has been suppressed over the last 6-12 months of social restrictions.
General Practice is under severe pressure and this is growing, our emergency services have been very busy and we are seeing significant demand for mental health services and beds in particular as well as continuing growing demand and complexity in social care.
While some of this suppressed demand was expected, we need to recognise that no one can fully predict what the needs of our populations will be over the coming months and years. We are yet to know the full impact of COVID-19 on society and it is likely to manifest in many different ways that will affect all of our services. It is vital, therefore, that we can respond to this changing need and are able shape and deliver services that continue to give our population the best possible care.
Responsive also needs to run through other areas of work across the system. Our vaccination programme continues to be a big success and huge plaudits should go to all those involved in helping us reach the milestone this month of one million first doses given across Sussex. One of the keys to this success has been how well the programme has responded to changes in national policy, responded to changes in vaccine supply, and responded to the different needs of the different communities we service, based on insight, data and feedback.
We need to also be responsive in our continued ICS development, in the context of the proposals set out in the White Paper. It is important we continue to shape a system based on engagement, discussion, input and involvement of our stakeholders and partners to create the ability for us to respond in the best possible way to the health and care needs of our populations.
By being responsive in everything we do, we will be able to navigate through what is likely to continue to be a changing landscape over the coming months to give our communities the care they need.