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Independent Healthcare Breakfast Poll Results: Lack of overarching leadership threatens integration

31 July 2017

Sir Howard Bernstein, former Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, was the keynote speaker at our recent Independent Healthcare Breakfast. Leaders from across the sector attended, presenting an opportunity to collect their views on the biggest issues affecting healthcare.

Our poll revealed that more than half (52%) of providers believe a lack of overarching system-wide leadership is the biggest obstacle to the integration of health and social care provision. Behind this, siloed funding and a disparity in cultures are perceived as lesser threats.

Leaders also felt the lack of integrated patient data systems and staffing shortages are easily surmountable hurdles in achieving more comprehensive integration.

Concerns over the viability of integration are not however affecting provider’s forecasts, with the majority anticipating moderate growth across the next three years.

Despite widespread optimism, leaders did identify challenges on the horizon. Over a third (39%) of respondents said NHS funding will affect their business, more so than other financial obstacles such as staff costs, social care and capital funding.

In terms of workforce pressure, providers are turning to new staffing models as a solution. One in three are using them to improve efficiency and productivity. They are similarly keen to offer more competitive pay and recruit more staff from Europe to help alleviate pressure.

Providers remain unenthusiastic about the potential of digital in healthcare, just 4 per cent agree digital solutions can help increase productivity.

Dan Kiely, Consultant in the Healthcare Practice at Odgers Interim adds: “These responses reflect a widespread belief across the sector that we need stronger leadership to manage the wide-ranging integration of services. Creating a cohesive health and social care system which works for everyone is certainly not an easy task but effective leadership is essential to deliver the tough decisions and strategic insight necessary. Achieving this will require NHS and Local Authority leaders to suppress personal interest & territorial instinct in order to deliver a joined-up service for all.”

“We can see a real divergence of approaches to easing workload and increasing productivity, which is perhaps indicative of the diverse range of challenges being faced in different areas of the sector. Huge nursing and carer staff turnover remains an issue for many groups, with Brexit and its potential to disrupt EU recruitment looming ever-larger. Identifying ways to combat this will become critical in order to maintain safe levels of staffing and high service standards.”

“Business transformation appears to be back on the agenda and we have seen a considerable uplift in demand for interim project, programme and change management professionals to assist with the delivery of a broad variety of initiatives.”


Hugh Taylor at 31/07/2017 13:35 said:

Having worked in the healthcare sector in Sir Howard Bernstein's own patch (Manchester) I was struck how little co-operation there was even between fellow NHS Trusts. This does not bode well when there is an increasing challenge around greater integration, whether between health and social care, or public and private sector provision, or a combination of all of these. Indeed, very early on after "DevoManc" (the devolution of power from Westminster to Greater Manchester) was announced, there was a public spat over the rationalisation of A&E services. Nobody wants to be the one who gives up a bit of their empire. The lack of "overarching system-wide leadership" is most definitely an obstacle to progress. Funding will continue to be a problem so part of the solution lies in greater integration and efficiency, but the leaders in the sector need to compromise and work together for the greater good if this is to happen.