Headlines: October 8th, 2002

The Department for Health has launched a new three year planning system that will bring all partners together. The system provides for local delivery plans that will show how the NHS, working with social services and other partners, will make visible improvements and expand and reform services over the next three years. It is simpler than the system it replaces and has fewer national requirements and national targets.Local authorities will take the lead for social care. For other non acute areas Primary Care Trusts and councils will locally agree the lead arrangements at the beginning of the planning process. All organizations will have to consider how joint activity will be reflected in local Public Service Agreements.

A key element of the new system is that NHS Trusts, local councils and other partners will need to develop underpinning plans which show the total increases in capacity required to meet the new targets in the three key areas of physical facilities, workforce and information management and technology.

The planning system is part of a process for transforming health services to achieve a focus on patients, with services designed around them and offering them choice and involvement. There is a recognition that success depends on the involvement of people and organizations and on the support of patients and the public. NHS Boards will review arrangements for involving and communicating with all patients, public, staff and partners. All stakeholders are to be involved in preparing and advising on the plans.