Overcoming the NHS Funding Gap: Changes & Collaboration

Overcoming the NHS Funding Gap: Changes & Collaboration

All areas of the NHS are facing a period of massive change and with it uncertainty. Many consider the current funding restrictions on the NHS as a defining moment in its history. To overcome the NHS funding gap Simon Stevens, the new head of NHS England, wants to create a culture of innovation and solutions based on the principle that ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’

As an example an increasing proportion of hospital funding from NHS England and local Clinical Commissioning Groups will be explicitly tied to prevention, quality of care, and patients’ own views. The way GPs, local hospitals, social care and community health services work together will also be radically redesigned.

“Stevens view is that we need different solutions for diverse communities and a one-size fits all system in no longer tenable,” said Paul Jarman, managing director of ROAD. “It’s up to providers to make sense of their local economy, build relationships, work in partnership, and create new ways of working together. Collaboration and on local and regional services will be the key to success.”

The changes now under way in every health economy in England due to the 2012 Act and the national economy are forcing all providers to reappraise how they will work with their colleagues locally and system leaders regionally and nationally, and how will they explain the likely consequent changes in provision to their communities.

Both patient and commissioner choice and the advent of a general election campaign in which the NHS will be a key issue mean that the local reputation of an organisation is perhaps more important today than ever. Reputation is not only the story others tell about your organisation, it is the story your organisation tells about itself – internally and externally.

The old school of reputation management in the NHS was too often defensive, focused mainly on minimising noise and bad news. The three unwritten laws of old-school NHS management were ’1. Don’t kill patients in such numbers that people notice 2. Don’t blow all the money and 3. Do keep any noise that might embarrass the minister down’. These were the products of a NHS highly-centralised on regional, ministerial and DH fiat, which was in no small measure responsible for unfortunate, insular and bullying aspects of culture that contributed to well-known tragedies in patient care, as the reports of Robert Francis and Don Berwick suggested.

The plumbing of power in the NHS is now considerably more complex, legislatively and practically (although highly centralising impulses still exist across the new system leadership hierarchy).

More broadly, the world of public service provision has changed since the 2000 Freedom Of Information Act, the widespread publication of NHS performance data and the rise of social media. Stakeholders in the NHS and the care economy face massive challenges as demand rises while funding is essentially flat or (if you see the Better Care Fund as removal of money from the NHS falling. Candid conversations about these challenges within local health economies are absolutely unavoidable. They should therefore be embraced, as should a far greater level of public dialogue. (NHS England’s decision to webcast its board meetings sets a positive example of this.)

The NHS’s traditional approach to changes and reconfigurations of services (inevitably painted as cuts or closures) tended to formulate plans secretly without public involvement or engagement, and then present those plans with a veneer of public consultation to prevent against getting a judicial review, and with no real intention to change the plans. Consequently, public confidence in NHS service changes is not high.

Hospital providers have been one of the most stable parts of the NHS throughout its many management reconfigurations, and the 2003 Health and Social Care Act gave successfully-authorised FTs important freedoms. Whoever wins the May 2015 election, it is unlikely that the NHS will be able to spend its way out of the challenges of meeting the health and care needs of an ageing, fattening and increasingly co-morbid population. Providers will have to start to think imaginatively and on the basis of data as they plan their course from the 2014-15 financial year to the end of the decade.

Providers who do not have candid (and sometimes difficult) conversations with their local and national partners and stakeholders, and who do not fully understand how they are perceived by their partners and stakeholders, will be at a significant disadvantage in making their plans. Any provider must also have open and constructive dialogue with its key internal stakeholders – its staff – if it is to adapt successfully. One defining principle of doing this well and sustainably is to listen as much as you broadcast. Another is to implement confidence-building measures at a very early stage of the process.

Changing health and care provision is not likely to be straightforward, but without making appropriate stakeholder consultation and engagement part of a provider organisation’s core business, it is likely to be much more painful than it otherwise might.

Overcoming the NHS Funding Gap: Changes & Collaboration

Healthcare piggy bankAll areas of the NHS are facing a period of massive change and with it uncertainty.  Many consider the current funding restrictions on the NHS as a defining moment in its history. To overcome the NHS funding gap Simon Stevens, the new head of NHS England, wants to create a culture of innovation and solutions based on the principle that ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’

As an example an increasing proportion of hospital funding from NHS England and local Clinical Commissioning Groups will be explicitly tied to prevention, quality of care, and patients’ own views. The way GPs, local hospitals, social care and community health services work together will also be radically redesigned.

“Stevens view is that we need different solutions for diverse communities and a one-size fits all system in no longer tenable,” said Paul Jarman, managing director of ROAD. “It’s up to providers to make sense of their local economy, build relationships, work in partnership, and create new ways of working together. Collaboration and on local and regional services will be the key to success.”

The changes now under way in every health economy in England due to the 2012 Act and the national economy are forcing all providers to reappraise how they will work with their colleagues locally and system leaders regionally and nationally, and how will they explain the likely consequent changes in provision to their communities.

Both patient and commissioner choice and the advent of a general election campaign in which the NHS will be a key issue mean that the local reputation of an organisation is perhaps more important today than ever. Reputation is not only the story others tell about your organisation, it is the story your organisation tells about itself – internally and externally.

The old school of reputation management in the NHS was too often defensive, focused mainly on minimising noise and bad news. The three unwritten laws of old-school NHS management were ‘1. Don’t kill patients in such numbers that people notice 2. Don’t blow all the money and 3. Do keep any noise that might embarrass the minister down’. These were the products of a NHS highly-centralised on regional, ministerial and DH fiat, which was in no small measure responsible for unfortunate, insular and bullying aspects of culture that contributed to well-known tragedies in patient care, as the reports of Robert Francis and Don Berwick suggested.

The plumbing of power in the NHS is now considerably more complex, legislatively and practically (although highly centralising impulses still exist across the new system leadership hierarchy).

More broadly, the world of public service provision has changed since the 2000 Freedom Of Information Act, the widespread publication of NHS performance data and the rise of social media. Stakeholders in the NHS and the care economy face massive challenges as demand rises while funding is essentially flat or (if you see the Better Care Fund as removal of money from the NHS falling. Candid conversations about these challenges within local health economies are absolutely unavoidable. They should therefore be embraced, as should a far greater level of public dialogue. (NHS England’s decision to webcast its board meetings sets a positive example of this.)

The NHS’s traditional approach to changes and reconfigurations of services (inevitably painted as cuts or closures) tended to formulate plans secretly without public involvement or engagement, and then present those plans with a veneer of public consultation to prevent against getting a judicial review, and with no real intention to change the plans. Consequently, public confidence in NHS service changes is not high.

Hospital providers have been one of the most stable parts of the NHS throughout its many management reconfigurations, and the 2003 Health and Social Care Act gave successfully-authorised FTs important freedoms. Whoever wins the May 2015 election, it is unlikely that the NHS will be able to spend its way out of the challenges of meeting the health and care needs of an ageing, fattening and increasingly co-morbid population. Providers will have to start to think imaginatively and on the basis of data as they plan their course from the 2014-15 financial year to the end of the decade.

Providers who do not have candid (and sometimes difficult) conversations with their local and national partners and stakeholders, and who do not fully understand how they are perceived by their partners and stakeholders, will be at a significant disadvantage in making their plans. Any provider must also have open and constructive dialogue with its key internal stakeholders – its staff – if it is to adapt successfully. One defining principle of doing this well and sustainably is to listen as much as you broadcast. Another is to implement confidence-building measures at a very early stage of the process.

Changing health and care provision is not likely to be straightforward, but without making appropriate stakeholder consultation and engagement part of a provider organisation’s core business, it is likely to be much more painful than it otherwise might.

 

 

 

WHERE DOES YOUR PR GO?

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS, CREATING ADVOCATES.
WHERE DOES YOUR PR GO?
Welcome to ROAD – Health PR, Medical PR, & Consumer PR
ROAD is a health PR and medical communications consultancy specialising in all aspects of our health and wellbeing. We provide healthcare communications and creative solutions for clients in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, OTC and POM to P, food, nutrition and supplements, aesthetic medicine and the science of beauty.
ROAD creates public relations campaigns that start conversations, encourage relationships and begin word of mouth recommendation. To see some of our award winning work, have a look at our case studies.
AffinityDrive ® is ROAD’s consultancy tool that combines data management software, online tools, e-learning applications, and sophisticated communications planning, to create sustained
brand engagement.

Customer and Patient Engagement: Embracing The Elephant in the Room

This is the first of three blogs on one of our favourite subjects: Engagement – the art of talking to somebody about a shared issue, and finding an outcome that will change their world for the better.

As specialists in healthcare PR, we are often challenged to communicate about ‘the elephant in the room’ – in other words, issues that are so obvious, yet so embarrassing or debilitating that they are almost impossible to discuss. The potential to break taboos is made slightly easier by the multitude of communications channels now available. However, fundamental, to any conversation with a patient or customer is a genuine insight and the promise of a value exchange in terms of outcome. Furthermore, the conversation must be conducted using a tone that is appropriate – as well as compelling. Research gives us these critical insights. But there’s research, and there’s research….

Options range from pure quantitative research, to focus groups, all the way through to deep ethnographic (behavioural) research. What we gain are the insights so crucial for engagement in meaningful ways.

When and why to use Research?

Different audiences and issues require different approaches, as ROAD’s director of insight, Justine, explains: “We approach every project with an open mind and without prejudice. We use discussion, observation, interaction, as well as more quantifiable research methods, so we gain in-depth and insightful understanding of their specific issues and the obstacles in the way: The lives they live, the issues they face, the things they aspire to.”

Befriending the elephant in the room

Much of ROAD’s recent patient engagement projects have fallen into the ‘difficult to discuss’ category. Recent examples include sexual health, ageing, deafness and incontinence. We take nothing for granted, and we always ‘keep it real’. Our patient engagement work for Pfizer’s haemophilia division is a good example.

Haemophilia is a rare condition affecting only males. It is well-documented that once these boys graduate from the intense protection of their families towards independent adulthood, compliance with their medication regime falls as new behaviours and concerns take hold. Unfortunately, this has negative implications for their long-term health. Conveying health messages to young adult males can be a real challenge. Creating real life content about sex, drugs, alcohol, relationships, sport, fights, and other potentially dangerous activities – using films and streetwise digital format enabled the materials to really connect. Perhaps the most powerful platform created involved older teenagers giving advice to younger boys via podcasts.

If helping to break taboos makes for better health outcomes, it’s something we’re proud to do.

Look out for our next blog – Part II on consumer and patient engagement soon… In the meantime, if you’d like to find out more, please contact Ruth Delacour , Account Director at ROAD.

The pleasure of sound!

On a sunny April morning ROAD hosted a much-awaited media launch at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden for the ‘Pleasure of Sound’ – a new campaign to get the nation’s hearing tested with high-street experts Hidden Hearing. Breakfast TV medic Dr Hilary Jones and Eurovision winner of Bucks Fizz fame Cheryl Baker were the special guests on the day, highlighting the issue of hearing loss and sharing their own personal experience with some of the UK’s top health writers and journalists.

ROAD commissioned new research which highlighted the undeniable pleasure that music brings to our lives, with three quarters of people listening to music for up to 4 hours each day – over 60 days a year! Not surprisingly from the nation that gave the world The Beatles, Spice Girls and One Direction, the most popular music genre was pop music with 66% of the votes. Music is also extremely evocative, with half of us stating that a certain song triggers memories of a past relationship, and 1 in 5 associate a song with a first kiss!

 

Dr Hilary Jones led the proceedings and reinforced the importance of looking after our hearing –

  1. Half of us are concerned about our hearing, yet 20% of us take no precautions to look after our hearing.
  2. 50% of us can’t remember when we last went for a hearing test, and a quarter wouldn’t know how to get their hearing tested
  3. Hearing loss can have a significant impact on our quality of life, sometimes leading to social exclusion and even affecting mental health.

Cheryl Baker explained that her whole life has been about ‘the pleasure of sound.’ However, growing up on a council estate in Bethnal Green, she thought she would never be able to make it as a professional singer. She unfolded her childhood dream of becoming a singer and getting “the gold in music” which for her was winning Eurovision for Great Britain. She achieved the dream she wished for in 1981 winning Eurovision with her band, Bucks Fizz. At the launch Cheryl emphasised her enthusiasm at being an ambassador for Hidden Hearing’s Pleasure of Sound campaign, sharing her own personal experience of hearing loss through her husband, Steve, who has hearing loss as a result of being a bass guitarist for many years.

We were also joined by Jackie Hunt, 44 from the West Midlands who has experienced hearing loss since her mid-twenties and kindly came along to share her personal story. Jackie told us “I stopped enjoying certain social situations; I would really struggle with conversations and feel like I was staring blankly at people if I couldn’t keep up.”

After putting off help for years, Jackie finally did something about her hearing loss and had a test at one of Hidden Hearing’s high-street stores, Jackie was diagnosed with a condition called ‘Otosclerosis’ and it was revealed that she had an approximate hearing loss of 60% in both of her ears. At a follow up appointment she was given some sample hearing aids, “I felt that it was like the sun had just come out and it was really emotional. I had no idea I was going to feel like that.”

Hidden Hearing’s Pleasure of Sound campaign is featured in the health section of today’s Daily Express.

 

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