London hospitalsThe NHS has chosen the first 29 ‘vanguard’ geographies that will take the national lead on transforming care for patients in towns, cities and counties across England.

Some 270 groups of nurses, doctors and other health and social care staff from across the country put forward their ideas for how they want to redesign care in their areas, and then helped choose the first 29 of the most innovative plans.

Drawing on a new £200 million transformation fund and tailored national support, from April the vanguards will develop local health and care services to keep people well. It will also bring home care, mental health and community nursing, GP services and hospitals together for the first time since 1948.

For patients, this will lead to a significant improvement in their experience of health services, according NHS heads. It is estimated more than five million patients will benefit, just from this first wave. For example, this could mean: fewer trips to hospitals as cancer and dementia specialists and GPs work in new teams; a single point of access for family doctors, community nurses, social and mental health services; and access to tests, dialysis or chemotherapy much closer to home.

Speaking ahead of NHS Change Day on March 11, Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England, said: “The NHS now has its own long term plan, backed by just about everybody, and today we’re firing the starting gun. Instead of the usual top-down administrative tinkering, we’re backing radical care redesign by frontline nurses, doctors and other staff – in partnership with their patients and local communities. From Wakefield to Whitstable, and Yeovil to Harrogate, we’re going to see distinctive solutions to shared challenges, which the whole of the NHS will be able to learn from. ”

David Bennett, Chief Executive of Monitor, said: “The first wave of vanguard sites represents a practical start to transforming the NHS. We will use our expertise in areas such as pricing and system economics, alongside our oversight of foundation trusts, to help local areas develop the new models of care that are essential for the NHS and the people who use it.”