Delivering on the Nicholson Challenge: Today (Wednesday June 13) I’m speaking at the Reform conference.
Filed Under (Expenditure, Innovation, Nicholson Challenge) by Paul on 13-06-2012
One of the important aspects of rising to the Nicholson Challenge – raising between £15-20 billion from within the NHS budget over 5 years – is that it is now clear that the idea of this being a discrete challenge over a period of time, is coming to an end.
We will not now look back on the period of NHS spend 2010-2015 and say “it was a strange time when the NHS had to recycle 4% of its budget every year”. We will now look at this period and say either
- It was a really difficult task and the NHS raised its game to meet it*
- It only just scrapped through because of a three year pay freeze*
- It failed to meet the challenge*
(* delete whichever doesn’t apply in 2015)
We won’t be looking back on this time as the period of ‘the challenge’, because from here on in this scale of financial challenge for the NHS will be normal. In fact it is more than possible that the challenge will be getting a bit harder over the next decade.
Whilst some people have been looking at this challenge through the eyes of hyperbole – “this is so great a challenge you can see it from outer space” (Get a life). An annual recycling of 4% of such a large budget is really not the same as irrigating the Sahara – which you actually could see from outer space). Down in the day to day experience of the NHS – apart from the pay freeze and the deflating tariff – there have been few eye-catching money-saving innovations.
There have been, and continue to be, a wide range of innovations that are developed within the NHS but as I wrote in today’s brochure for the Conference, not enough of them are aimed at significantly improving the health care outcomes of the NHS for the same resource.
Here’s the article,
Why the spark of innovation in the NHS needs channelling to the bigger purpose of saving the NHS
Within the NHS there is a higher proportion of staff trained in science per square inch than almost any other industry. It is therefore not surprising that the spark of innovation takes place within the NHS at very regular intervals, all over the service.
Every week or so the media splashes another stunning breakthrough which could relieve pain and distress. This means that modern medicine is one of the main drivers for continuous change within our health service.
But in other industries innovation is put to a broader purpose to transform the economics of the whole service and therefore ensure the service can reach many more people. The most obvious example is in communications technology where consistent innovation over 30 years has now brought the industry from the expense of a few large rooms in large organisations to literally into the hands of billions of the world population.
Innovation has transformed the values pathway.
This is now what we need in the NHS.
The current way in which value is delivered in health services through the amalgamation of medical staff, kit and drugs, will not see the NHS through the rise in demand for health care of the coming decades. The value changing innovations that The NHS needs will ensure that patients have a range of new channels through which they can add more and better value to their health care and through that to NHS.
The main value adding innovations will come from simple processes where the few hours a year that medical staff spend with a patient with a several long term conditions will be used to transform the patients’ capacity to add value to their health care through self management.
One amongst these innovations will be mobile communications, now ubiquitous in the delivery of value in a number of other industries. This will need to become a major channel for increasing the ability of patients to deliver of much more focussed and personal health care.
Innovations in the NHS have always been exciting, but in the next few years they need to focus on saving the whole institution.
I will be speaking in the session on the paperless hospital at 11:15, but I suspect I will be saying less about paper and its absence and more about the centrality of innovation driving new sources of value for the NHS (which are of course linked).