Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, outgoing NHS England Chief Executive Sir David Nicholson and Blackpool CCG Chief Clinical Officer Dr Amanda all spoke on the second day of the NHS Confederation annual conference, addressing both current concerns and future plans.

Dr Doyle said the most important test for those responsible for planning and buying healthcare services was whether they’d use that service themselves and for their families.

Hunt discussed the current pressures on emergency care, and gave details of the Vulnerable Older People’s Plan to be implemented from April next year, which he said would address many of the underlying causes of the A&E problems. He said there was also a need for much better co-ordination upon discharge, noting that the most vulnerable elderly people “are not leaving hospital ‘cured’”, and that he wants GPs’ accountable for individuals’ care once they leave.

He said there was a wider challenge to get the public to understand their healthcare options, saying: “We have failed to give the public confidence that there is anything in between a GP surgery and A&E.”

Sir David’s speech was well-received in the hall, focusing on what the NHS does well and what it needs to get better at. He spoke for a time about his own experiences following his diabetes diagnosis, and said the NHS needed to lead the conversation about reorganisation and reconfiguration – “politicians will never do it”, he told delegates. Patients need to be at the centre of any proposed changes to the way future healthcare is delivered.