The government must consult again on the Mandate for NHS England from 2016-19, because the recent consultation has been poor quality, low key and unacceptably hurried, National Voices says today.

The coalition of national health and care charities calls for the government to come back with a full and proper three month consultation once it has some clearer draft objectives for the NHS.

In its submission to the consultation, released today, National Voices notes that the first line of the NHS Constitution states: ‘The NHS belongs to the people’.

“It is therefore right and proper for ‘the people’ to have the opportunity to shape the Mandate. This is a pivotal document setting out the government’s priorities for the NHS and its expectations of NHS England, a public body disbursing about £100 billion a year.

“The government has published no proposals for enabling widespread public consultation on the renewal of the NHSE Mandate. The current consultation is inadequate in all respects, but particularly because it:

  1. Is not written to inform public audiences in accessible language about what the Mandate is, how it works, and why the various objectives might be set;
  2. Lacks clear and specific proposals to which people can intelligently respond;
  3. Has not been promoted widely; and
  4. Breaks good practice for public consultations (in the Compact[i] and in previous Cabinet Office advice), particularly applying the standard of a three month consultation.”

Don Redding, Director of Policy for National Voices, says today:

“For the public and for communities around the country the next three years will be among the most significant in the NHS’s history. It must not only achieve sustainability against the massive challenges of funding and demand, but also redesign whole systems of care – in ways which, we hope, will lead to more person centred, coordinated and supportive care for millions of people with continuing or fluctuating conditions.

“In this consultation we have been presented with only the vaguest objectives against which to hold NHSE publicly accountable: improving outcomes for everyone, reducing inequalities, and other big duties that are already contained in the founding legislation for NHS England.

“National Voices wants the government to commit to coming back with a set of clear, SMART, draft objectives and an ambitious plan to involve both sectoral stakeholders and the general public in responding to them.”

National Voices is the coalition of health and social care charities in England. They work for a strong patient and citizen voice and services built around people. They stand up for voluntary organisations and their vital work for people’s health and care. @NVTweeting

For further information contact: Veronica Beserve 02031 761208/0738 or email beserve@nationalvoices.org.uk.