GHP August 2015

6 | ghp August 2015 NHS in Transparency Drive The publishing of monthly data and the news that services must tell pa- tients how to get in touch with their local Healthwatch highlights drive to improve transparency in the healthcare service. The publishing of the monthly data, which began this month, was recommended by Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s National Medical Director to NHS England’s Chief Executive Simon Stevens in a letter published in June entitled ‘making waiting times work for patients’. The public nature of the data means patients and users of the services as well as ministers and those in positions of power within the service can utilize the data and see exactly what is going on within the service on a monthly basis. Additionally there have been updates to the rules directly affecting patients, ensuring the NHS is more transparent in terms of where patients can go to make complaints about services or seek further information from an impartial body. As of April 2015 all healthcare services except GP services, opticians, dentists and chemists, have to provide clear information to patients, their carers and representatives about how to contact their local Healthwatch, an independent consumer champion. This rule has come about as part of the NHS Standard Contract for 2015/16 mandated by NHS England. This means that more people will be aware of where to go to share their experiences and how they can help healthcare services learn and improve. Services are already required to respond to reports and recommendations made by local Healthwatch, allow them to visit services in a formal capacity to find out what people think of them, and act on complaints local Healthwatch make about providers failing to disclose patient safety issues, and all of these require- ments remain in the new contract. The improved transparency from the service highlights the move towards greater ease of consumers shaping the way the NHS is run by keeping them informed, both of their personal rights to access to an independ- ent interested party and data which will improve their knowledge of how the service is run. news