The health and social care secretary has said that changing the way in which health services are commissioned has driven significant efficiencies for the NHS over the last two years.
In his assessment of NHS England, published yesterday, Matthew Hancock said that NHS England “has met or is making good progress” towards 89% of the deliverables in the government’s mandate.
A key improvement came from the changes in how health chiefs are commissioning services and procuring medical devices, according to the assessment.
Last year, NHS England and clinical commissioning groups delivered £3 billion of productivity and efficiency improvements.
Mr Hancock also praised the NHS for delivering more than 54,000 Personal Health Budgets (PHB) two years ahead of schedule.
PHBs, which include Personal Wheelchair Budgets (PWB) are being increasingly rolled out across NHS trusts and an estimated 200,000 people are expected to access them in the next five years.
PHBs replaced the wheelchair voucher scheme last year and have been trialled across various CCGs. The budgets can be used to purchase personalised wheelchairs and tech devices that can control curtains, lighting, heating and door intercoms.
Despite the improvements in procurement and commissioning, the assessment shows patient waiting times need to be reduced. The document said that over the past few years demand for the NHS has grown while patient need has continued to be diverse and complex.
Mr Hancock said: “The NHS is this country’s most valued public service and we’re rightly supporting it with an extra £33.9 billion a year in vital funding by 2023 to 2024 as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
“We want to ensure this money benefits the frontline to help them deliver a sustainable and efficient health service across the country and we will be working with the NHS to safeguard our nation’s health for generations to come.”