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Government dilutes public health priorities to deliver shorter NHS mandate

The government has downgraded the importance of improving public health in its annual ‘mandate’ to the NHS.

The government’s 2023 mandate to NHS England’ is noticeably shorter at 18 pages than the previous document from March 2022.

Speaking at the NHS ConfedExpo conference, health secretary Steve Barclay said: “For over a decade, governments have used the mandate to make asks of the system. Sometimes these asks have been excessive, with long documents with many pages full of tests and targets… But what we’ve done this year is make it short and clear… setting out our priorities: Cutting waiting lists; the three recovery plans; tech; and workforce".

All the keystone targets for recovering the elective backlog, emergency care waits and cancer care remain in place.

However, the latest mandate places significantly less emphasis on public health.

For example, one of the five objectives in the 2022 mandate called for the service to “embed a population health management approach within local systems, stepping up action to prevent ill health and tackle health disparities”. It also makes no mention of any vaccination programme.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 15 June 2023


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