The NHS needs a single body to oversee the investment for transformative change in the NHS, says a report.
The think tanks the Health Foundation and King’s Fund both support the creation of a Transformation Fund for the NHS in England to drive forward change and help make efficiencies.
The body overseeing this fund should have strong, expert leadership which is credible to clinicians and managers, it says.
The key recommendations of the report include:
– existing disparate strands of transformative funding should be pooled into one Transformation Fund;
– the fund requires £1.5–2.1bn a year in dedicated funding between now and 2020/21. While bringing together the existing strands will go some way towards this, more resources will be needed above the £8bn increase in NHS funding already announced by the government.
Anita Charlesworth, chief economist at the Health Foundation, said: “While we recognise that it is challenging to provide additional funding for the NHS in the context of other services receiving cuts, the alternative is to risk a decline in quality and safety in NHS-funded care and a reduction to the services currently available.
“Without more resources specifically for transformation, the NHS will be unable to become more productive and the bill for additional running costs will only get larger.”
The introduction of the fund would involve two phases, the report says. The first phase (2016/17–2020/21) would be split into two strands: an Efficiency Strand, which would look to achieve higher rates of efficiency growth across all services, and a Development Strand to invest in new models of care.
The second phase (2021/22 and beyond) would focus on widespread roll-out of the successful new models of care. This would include double-running costs associated with these new models.
The fund must be properly resourced, the report urges, to support investment in four key areas, which are essential for successful transformation: staff time, programme infrastructure, physical infrastructure and double-running costs.
The fund would ensure proper accountability for public money, ensuring its investments are properly linked to, and measured against, core objectives.
Charlesworth added: “The transformation fund should become a fundamental part of the DNA of the health service from here onwards.”
Further consideration should be given to generating funding through the development of the NHS estate into a long-term sustainable source of new income.
Dr Johnny Marshall, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, commented: “We support the call for a national dedicated fund to drive forward essential changes to the way health and care services are delivered. We’ve been arguing for some time for greater resources in transformation to cover the double-running that is often essential for change to be effective.
“Too often investment has been allocated under the assumption that new services will automatically replace the current model and deliver benefits immediately.”