NHS England has issued a brief update on expectations and priorities for 2024/25.
Sent to all Integrated care boards (ICBs) and trusts, the letter outlines how discussions with government for the unfolding year are still ongoing and, as a result, full priorities and planning guidance for 2024/25 will not be published until the new calendar year.
However, the update advises ICBs and trusts not to wait to start planning for next year, highlighting that financial allocations for 2024/25 have already been published.
In terms of urgent and emergency care (UEC), it is noted that the delivery plan for recovering urgent and emergency care services will “not fundamentally change”.
“The key requirements will be for systems to maintain the increase in core UEC capacity established in 2023/24, complete the agreed investment plans to increase diagnostic and elective activity and reduce waiting times for patients, and maximise the gain from the investment in primary care in improving access for patients, including the new pharmacy first service”.
The update also notes that, despite industrial action and continued pressures on social care capacity, there has been “sustained improvements in headline A&E and ambulance service performance compared to last year”.
ICBs and trusts are advised to continue to focus on recovering core service delivery and productivity, as well as target a reduction in the cost of temporary staffing.