Research from NHS transformation specialists Transforming Healthcare Consultancy suggests 44% of NHS acute Trusts lack a formal transformation plan.
The research, conducted in November 2018, suggests that whilst national initiatives such as the NHS Long Term Plan and the launch of the new digital transformation quango NHSX are setting the direction of travel, there are significant challenges for local organisations in delivering sustainable change.
Commenting on the findings, Stephen Seagreen-Bell, managing director at Transforming Healthcare Consultancy cited funding and resource planning as two of the main challenges for Trusts working to develop and deliver transformation plans.
He said: “In our experience the reason many NHS providers do not have a transformation plan in place is because they are working towards a wider strategic roadmap to improve services and patient care. Although useful for setting a vision for change, these tend to be aspirational and do not address the practicalities of on-the-ground transformation.
“The Long Term Plan is essentially saying we need to do more with less to make the NHS sustainable. In our view, trust-level transformation plans are essential to provide direction, but to be meaningful and deliverable, they must include resource plans, funding considerations and appropriate scheduling. Otherwise they are at risk of becoming ‘wish lists’ that will not affect change.”
Many strategic roadmaps which include improvement programmes and digital transformation projects are impeded by funding constraints or capacity limitations when dealing with changing or urgent organisational priorities such as winter pressures.
Dean Mawson, a THC associate specialising in clinical safety, added that provider level transformation plans can play an important role in patient safety improvements.
He said: “Patient safety is the prime driver for change at NHS trusts and whist it is important to aim for long-term, sustainable improvement, we must tackle the immediate issues being faced by those working in the frontline, which is what a good transformation plan will do.
“Poor infrastructure and endless paper processes for example are common barriers to delivering better clinical outcomes, and without a fully resourced plan in place will result in a disjointed approach to digital transformation and improvement.”