Crib sheet: Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS in England

CSP chief executive Karen Middleton recently met the most powerful man in England’s NHS, Simon Stevens. Want to know why he is so important? Frontline helps you bluff your way through the policy maze.


So who is this Simon Stevens guy anyway?

A former NHS manager, he’s the chief executive of the NHS in England. He took over from David Nicholson in April 2014. Before that, he was a close adviser to the Blair government, then went to work for UnitedHealth Group in the US.

What’s this five year plan for NHS England everyone is on about?

Basically it’s a big-picture approach to the way the needs of the population are changing and how the NHS will need respond to that change. You’ll see it shortened to 5YFV. 


It stands for Five year forward view.

Okay, okay, but why does it matter to me?

Physios working in England – whether the NHS or private sector – need to be aware of the proposed changes for the NHS. These will affect how they work, and – if they work outside the NHS – could offer opportunities for their business. Even for those outside England, the changes are likely to have an impact on the way the other three governments decide to provide healthcare in the long term.
With a predicted £30 billion shortfall in NHS funding by 2020-21, they’ve got to do something.
Stevens argues the NHS can’t just carry on by muddling through. He wants a shake-up in how healthcare is delivered. That includes primary, secondary and community services.

Sounds a tall order. Where does he plan to start?

Well, he wants to reduce health risks caused by obesity, smoking and alcohol. But he also wants the NHS to adopt a new approach to working. For instance, he is calling for a dissolution of the boundaries ...

... dissolution of the monasteries, wasn’t that Henry VIII’s line?

Pay attention, I said boundaries. The historic boundaries between primary, community and secondary care will be changing over the next five years.

Oh dear. That could affect me then.

Yes. He’s planning to trial several different models of care. In one, GPs will band together to provide a broader range of services, including some previously done in hospital. Another idea is to create new organisations covering GP and hospital services. You’re going to hear terms like ‘multispecialty community provider’ and ‘primary and acute care systems’ bandied around in the coming months.
Really? I’ve heard all this policy mumbo jumbo so many times before. What’s the CSP view then?
The CSP likes the plan. Seeing the right person as a first point of contact will mean giving appropriate care sooner and avoiding hospital admissions. But the new model needs appropriately trained physio staff to deliver new models of care. 

So what happens next?

We’re not suddenly going to convince people overnight that we need more physio staff to make this work. At local level, you need to take control if you want if you want a say in your local provision – after all, your future’s at stake.

Okay, okay, I get the picture. What do you want me to do?

Don’t stick your head in the sand and hope it will all blow over: it won’t. The key thing is to read the 5YFV and the implementation document that goes with it. Find out who is leading locally on developments in your area and start talking to them about how you can help. 

I couldn’t possibly do that!

Of course you can! It’s far better to help shape services now than complain about them afterwards. fl 

How can I find out more?

Frontline Staff

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