Health services in England need “a dedicated fund to finance and drive forward essential changes”, according to a new report launched this week by the Health Foundation and The King’s Fund.
The report – ‘Making change possible: A Transformation Fund for the NHS’ – arrives as the Department of Health releases its 2014/15 accounts which reinforce the financial challenges facing the NHS at this time.
The purpose of the Fund would be to enable the shift to new models of care as set out in the NHS five year forward view, as well as helping to unlock the efficiency savings required to balance the books.
The report explains that the Fund would not only deal with the current urgent need for service change but would, in the long-term, become a fundamental part of the NHS and the way it is funded.
Key findings from the report include: (i) the NHS needs a single body (whether within an existing organisation or newly created) to oversee the investment for transformative change in the NHS. It should have strong, expert leadership which is credible to clinicians and managers; (ii) the Transformation Fund requires £1.5–£2.1bn a year in dedicated funding between now and 2020/21.
“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”, said Anita Charlesworth, Chief Economist at the Health Foundation. “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 Transformation Fund should become a fundamental part of the DNA of the health service from here onwards.’
Richard Murray, Director of Policy at The King’s Fund, added: “The fundamental task is to get a workforce of more than one million people to work differently. This would be a huge challenge at the best of times but is an even bigger task when services are under such intense pressure. This cannot be done within the existing resources – dedicated funding is required to deliver the changes needed.”