NHS Digital Chair Sceptical on Five Year Forward View Progress

The chair of NHS Digital believes that it will be difficult for the healthcare system to deliver the ambitious productivity targets necessitated by the Five Year Forward View.

Kingsley Manning’s report on the NHS suggests that current plans may be insufficient to deliver the long-term sustainability intended.

Manning left NHS digital last year, but now works as a private healthcare consultant.

And having analysed the current performance and future plans of the NHS and its sustainability and transformation initiatives, the chair believes that productivity is falling significantly short of the authorities’ rhetoric.

“In practice, productivity – particularly workforce productivity – is not a priority either at the level of the STP or for the major trusts,” Manning wrote in the Health Service Journal.

Manning believes that productivity targets relating to the Five Year Forward View will likely be missed, while the NHS system as a whole is failing to deliver the quality of service required.

There are also concerns regarding the digital revolution, with the NHS poorly prepared to participate in this critical aspect of contemporary commerce.

The comments of Manning can be considered particularly timely, with NHS England and partnering organisations preparing to unveil a systemic update to the Five Year Forward View next month.

This will be the first time that is the document has been revised since it was first published in October 2014.

And Manning believes that the 3% annual improvement in productivity promised by the Five Year Forward View is little short of a delusion.

Manning also says that none of the 44 STPs provide analysis of current workforce productivity, with ten making absolutely no mention of productivity whatsoever.

Lord Carter, currently a non-executive director at NHS Improvement, responded to the report and asserted that “the biggest challenge for the NHS in 2016 is to deliver the changes needed to achieve the efficiency and productivity improvements required by 2020”.

And although the director believes that existing attempts to improve productivity have been worthwhile, there is nonetheless a significant amount of progress still to be made.

“While there has been good work to deliver the recommendations at pace, we urgently need to build on this momentum to help the NHS meet this challenge by making productivity and efficiency improvements our core business. We have also seen some evidence that STPs are coming to grips with the productivity challenge by ensuring their infrastructure and planning breaks through old silos and better enables collaborative working, particularly in pathology and corporate services.”

Carter also pointed to a regional inconsistency in the implementation of sustainability and transformation, which has previously been reflected in other areas of the healthcare system.

“However, there is an urgent need to deliver this across all STPs – one which NHS Improvement is supporting each day on its priority to consolidate pathology services and consolidate corporate services in order to have better value, higher quality services.”


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