Reflections on the NHS Confederation Conference 2017

For those of us working with the health and care sectors, the NHS confederation conference presents a unique opportunity for reflection.

Baxendale’s Associate Director and Health Lead, Ceri Jones, shares her observations.

As always, this year’s conference provided an opportunity to hear from those leading our health system in their vision along with their assessment of progress, successes and the challenges we still need to crack.

The progress in the NHS cannot be underestimated. Financially, its performance is improving year-on-year despite increases in demand and static funding, demonstrating real productivity improvements. Much of which is testimony to the outstanding commitment of the workforce.

Operationally, there is real momentum behind the integration agenda and the recognition that partnership working is not only desirable but essential if we are to provide more effective support to our population, in light of their increasingly complex needs.

However, despite this momentum, as a conference the lack of diversity was notable. I recognise that traditionally the event’s primary audience has been NHS leaders, but if the NHS is to meet the next wave of challenges it faces, solutions must cross the boundaries of all partners – private, public, voluntary and social enterprise.

The STPs provide a unique opportunity to really focus on the prevention agenda and how we really keep people well. And yet, while plans are developing to support the system to work together this still feels like it is driven from a financial imperative to support the structures we already have in place, with little vision or progress on more radical transformation.

Looking at what determines the length and quality of our lives (outcomes), the choices we make (even when we have a condition we’re already managing) plays the largest role. A further third is the environment we find ourselves in (jobs, homes, purpose in life). After that, it’s our genetics and only after that is the impact of our healthcare. While the NHS narrative may now support a move to valuing outcomes over counting activity, this is yet to drive partnerships that will make real inroads in population health. The people that can make a difference – LEPs, community providers who support effective long term condition management, local government, housing and the voluntary sector – were regrettably missing from the conference, and as such, missing from much of the debate and consequent plans.

However, there were some notable examples:

Verdict: we need to see much more of the above if we’re to make a difference.

Baxendale’s team are supporting partnerships and outcome development across health and social care.
If you work in the health and social care sector and want to learn more about developing partnerships to truly improve outcomes, email ceri.jones@baxendale.co.uk

Read the latest from our blog