The UK is experiencing some of its most intractable health challenges in this century alongside its most sustained funding squeeze in 70 years. This creates the urgency needed for real change.
It’s time for health services to be doing things differently. Coherently. We welcome the focus and share the ambition of the NHS Long Term Plan to transform the service model for health and care to be fit for the 21st century.
We’re pleased to see that the Long Term Plan announces that new funding will be invested in improving and expanding needed services for even more coordinated, proactive and personalised support, with the longstanding aim of prevention and community and primary care where possible. We aim to continue helping organisations make an even bigger impact in the communities they serve and get the most value of every pound of taxpayers’ investment.
“Virtually every aspect of modern life has been, and will continue to be, radically reshaped by innovation and technology — and healthcare is no exception.” We know there is power in data and technology. We support the ambitious goal of the Long Term Plan to mainstream digitally-enabled care because everyone deserves the choice to access the care they need whenever and wherever it’s needed.
Working with forward-thinking health organisations, FutureGov has experienced the benefits of a digital mindset first-hand. Our current work with Public Health England aims to provide 100% of families with overweight children access to a highly personalised digital weight management service that works for them.
Focusing on people
We embrace the Long Term Plan’s aspirations to transform ways of working to a person-centred, co-design, and collaborative approach that makes a real difference. Working with leaders, clinicians, patients and the public, the NHS is in a good place to engage with local communities to create the best outcomes for people.
Person-centred design is at the heart of who we are and what we do at FutureGov. We’ve been fortunate to work alongside NHS England and NHS Digital over the last year to shape the NHS Design Principles, with the very first principle being: put people at the heart of everything you do.
Where we see the challenges lie
Inevitably, there’s a range of feedback in relation to the plan. When you develop a vision for something as large and diverse as the NHS there is going to be a devil in the detail.
As a change agency founded with and for local government above all else, we share the concerns of the LGA in relation to how this plan connects to plans for social care. Counter to the dominant mindset in the UK, we should be taking a ‘social care and prevention first’ perspective on health and social care delivery. Social care is more than just the place where people go once they exit the health system and we should focus on keeping people well and preventing the need for health services for as long as possible in the first place. Health and social care co-exist and need to be re-designed as one single experience, not held in separation as they continue to be in this country.
As a result, much of the digital aspirations risk being partial or transactional rather than truly about supporting the person as a whole. Of course, it needs to be easier to book appointments but we also need to move towards needing fewer appointments in the first place above all else. There is a reference to prevention in the plan, with significant commitments to areas such as mental health. But, the balance of power, budget and focus remain on responsive healthcare rather than an equal and opposite response in both social care and wider prevention services.
There is a great deal the health sector can learn from social care and wider local government approaches to change and digital transformation. This is why we brought together FutureGov and Uscreates late last year. We want to help bring those worlds together and give social care an equal voice at the table. It would be great for this plan to do the same, but hopefully, the mooted social care green paper due in April can provide that balance.
This is the time
FutureGov is growing our ambition for health and care in tandem with the launch of the NHS Long Term Plan. Now more than ever before, we have the vision, experience and guile to design better health and care futures. We’re committed to changing services, organisations and the systems they exist within to help people live more independent, healthier lives for longer.