Chair and Chief Executive’s foreword

The past 12 months has seen us fully embracing our new role in providing guidance and quality standards for the social care sector, as well as continuing with our commitment to improving outcomes for people using the NHS and public health services.

Through our social care programme, we can help health and social care professionals to work more closely and effectively together, and make better use of limited resources. Our quality standard on managing medicines in care homes, published in March 2015, builds on the corresponding guideline and is an example of where services can work together and share information to ensure people in care homes receive the correct medicines.

In July 2014, we published guidance on safe nurse staffing levels in adult acute hospital wards. The guidance sets out a series of ‘red flag events’, which warn when nurses in charge of shifts must act immediately to ensure they have enough staff to meet the needs of patients on that ward. In February 2015, we published companion guidance on safe staffing in maternity settings.

Our interventional procedures programme reached a landmark with its 500th piece of guidance in August 2014, under the leadership of Professor Bruce Campbell. Since launching in 2002, the programme has played a valuable role in ensuring that new procedures introduced to the NHS are both safe and effective.

Another of our core functions is the public health programme, which offers the NHS and local authorities guidance on preventing ill health and promoting healthy lifestyle choices. As the House of Commons Health Select Committee acknowledged, we now have “a comprehensive raft of guidance on cost-effective interventions that can be introduced, either by the NHS or by local government, to improve diet and physical activity”. This suite of guidance also includes advice to help tackle other major challenges including tobacco control and poor oral health.

The government has pledged that there can be “no health without mental health” and we echo those sentiments. We have added to our portfolio of guidance on mental health and wellbeing with important updates to help support people with bipolar disorder, and new advice to address gaps in mental health care for new mothers.

We recognise that mental health issues are often triggered by other chronic long-term conditions and are developing guidance on multi-morbidities that will better support people who have a mix of mental and physical health conditions.

All our work is aligned with the ambitions set for the NHS in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View, the priorities set for improving public health by Public Health England, and the goals the Government has identified for social care in the Care Act 2014.

As we continue to increase the range of guidance, standards, and supporting products on offer to the health and social care sectors, we take this opportunity to pay tribute to the hard work of our staff, and the individuals and organisations with whom we work, who make it all possible.


Professor David Haslam CBE Chair

Sir Andrew Dillon Chief Executive