Innovation and changeDigital TransformationNHS acute trusts fall short on transition plans due to resourcing and funding challenges

NHS acute trusts fall short on transition plans due to resourcing and funding challenges

Research from THC highlights resourcing and funding challenges required to develop meaningful programmes that support NHS Long Term Plan

A total of 45% of NHS acute trusts do not have a transformation plan, according to research by a network of NHS transformation specialists.

The research was conducted in November 2018 by Transforming Healthcare Consultancy (THC), a team of individual specialists who provide health service improvement, change management and digital transformation services.

The research suggests that whilst national initiatives such as the NHS Long Term Plan and the launch of the new digital transformation organisation NHSX are setting the direction of travel, there are significant challenges for local organisations in delivering sustainable change.

Reason for the shortfall

Commenting on the findings, Stephen Seagreen-Bell, Managing Director at Transforming Healthcare Consultancy said: “The absence of transformation plans at provider level was not surprising. In our experience the reason many NHS providers do not have a transformation plan in place is because they are working towards a wider strategic roadmap to improve services and patient care.

“Although useful for setting a vision for change, these tend to be aspirational and do not address the practicalities of on-the-ground transformation.”

Cited funding and resource planning as two of the main challenges for trusts working to develop and deliver transformation plan, he said: “The Long-Term Plan is essentially saying we need to do more with less to make the NHS sustainable.

“In our view, trust-level transformation plans are essential to provide direction, but to be meaningful and deliverable, they must include resource plans, funding considerations and appropriate scheduling. Otherwise they are at risk of becoming ‘wish lists’ that will not affect change.”

Importance of transformation plans

Many strategic road-maps which include improvement programmes and digital transformation projects are impeded by funding constraints or capacity limitations when dealing with changing or urgent organisational priorities such as winter pressures.

Seagreen-Bell argued: “The presence of a transformation plan allows for more accurate and realistic planning capabilities helping NHS providers meet their improvement ambitions. Transformation plans help trusts adequately plan for the delivery of high-quality improvement programmes and digital transformation projects in line with their strategy.

“We’ve seen this approach work time and time again. Our experienced financial leads, IT experts, strategists and operational planning specialists have worked closely with NHS colleagues at all levels to help take the pressure off delivering improved clinical outcomes and deliver productivity gains in the short and long term.”

Transformation plans cover a wide range of initiatives and programmes including service development, system implementations and consolidation of services delivery. They focus towards delivering improvements in patient outcomes, increases in service efficiency and reductions in service delivery costs.

The road ahead

Investments in technologies like Robotics and AI would be like grabbing the low hanging fruits since these are prominent technologies for UK’s Government and Public sector.

All initiatives must be outlined in the strategic roadmap of the trust and be developed around the key principles of:

  • Patient safety
  • Better patient outcomes
  • Reducing cost variation of service delivery
  • Standardisation of service quality
  • Increased financial control
  • Improved financial return on investment and service delivery.

Dean Mawson, a THC associate specialising in clinical safety, added: “Provider level transformation plans can play an important role in patient safety improvements. Patient safety is the prime driver for change at NHS trusts and whist it is important to aim for long-term, sustainable improvement, we must tackle the immediate issues being faced by those working in the frontline, which is what a good transformation plan will do.

“Poor infrastructure and endless paper processes for example are common barriers to delivering better clinical outcomes, and without a fully resourced plan in place will result in a disjointed approach to digital transformation and improvement,” concluded Mawson.

 THC brings together a pool of associates to offer a wide range of consultancy services from executive strategy to daily working practices, from large-scale deployments to roll-outs to individual users. Armed with a combined 150+ years’ healthcare experience, THC has worked with a wide range of healthcare providers, including Global Digital Exemplars, to support areas of transformation.

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