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Initiatives shortage poses threat to NHS survival


Blog headlines

  • Can the Community Pharmacy become the gateway to integrated care in the NHS?
    13 August 2020

    The NHS is a continually evolving innovative demand led public service the role of the Community Pharmacist is becoming the public face on a journey to the more responsible public engagement in the personal care of individuals and their family. There are currently over 11000 Pharmacies many are single or small chain service providers, while multiples occupy the urban shopping centres and more densely populated conurbations, the value of the rural High Street can’t be understated.

  • Crunch time for patient involvement
    7 August 2020

    There are new challenges for primary care, which could really do with patient input. Mike Etkind, chair of a PPG and founding member of his PCN’s patient group, recognises the size of the task clinical directors have managed over the last few months but identifies two particular issues where patients have a necessary and valuable contribution, that need to be addressed now – the 2020 vaccination programme and primary care from a distance- total triage, remote consultations, and the use of telemedicine.

  • Link of the week - Visionbridge
    31 July 2020

    The link we are sharing this week was submitted by Julian Jackson, Visionbridge.

  • Links of the week
    23 July 2020

    This week we are sharing two articles with you.

  • Link of the week
    21 July 2020

    The blog is from the perspective of the Company Chemist Association's Chief Executive Malcolm Harrison.

  • Link of the week
    9 July 2020

    This week we are sharing a blog from the NHS Confederation’s “NHS Reset” looking at the work of Healthwatch, the role of volunteers in supporting patients being discharged from hospital and the importance of the community.

  • Virtual education sessions on spinal cord injury from Spinal Injuries Association
    2 July 2020

    This week Karen Mikalsen from the Spinal Injuries Association shares some information on their work and events for healthcare professionals.

  • Guest blog:Karen Chumley
    25 June 2020

    Thank you to Karen Chumley for a second blog –this time on the local use of an Electronic Palliative Care Coordination system during the Covid-19 pandemic. Karen is the Clinical Director and Deputy CEO at St Helena.

  • Link of the week
    19 June 2020

    This week's link of the week is article by Yasmin Khanagha published in Nursing Times – Why we need to open the conversation about racism.

  • Guest blog: Dr Karen Chumbley
    12 June 2020

    This week we have a guest blog submitted by Dr Karen Chumbley, clinical director and deputy chief executive at St Helena (https://www.sthelena.org.uk/)

  • Social care to become lifestyle brand
    16 April 2020

    Social care is to get a new brand identity as the government seeks to reverse the perception that it is the poor relation of the NHS.

  • Blithering Covid-19 bulletin plays vital role
    2 April 2020

    To fill a gap in the market for timely and relevant Covid-19 information, Martin Plackard, director of global crisis communications at NHS Blithering introduces his latest initiative to reach out to stakeholders during the outbreak.

  • Social distancing the Longstay way
    27 March 2020

    We asked Sir Trevor Longstay, chief executive of the NHS Blithering University Hospitals Foundation Trust and commander-in-chief of the Blithering Covid-19 Taskforce to give us some practical tips on social distancing. Here he shares some of the lessons learned over four decades of leadership – not all of them relevant or epidemiologically sound

  • Nothing left to shift: fears grow over NHS paradigm supply
    12 March 2020

    The government has issued a stark warning that stocks of paradigms and other basic supplies could soon run out if NHS managers continue panic-buying.

  • Matt Hancock’s diary – a week of levelling up
    27 February 2020

    Taking personal charge of global pandemics is one of the perks of this job. I’m referring to coronavirus, of course, and I’m booked to appear on Sky News to talk about it.

  • Exceeding your expectations: the Blithering staff survey
    20 February 2020

    Staff at NHS Blithering feel listened to “at least once a year” and report that their expectations of taking part in surveys have been “met” or “exceeded” in the past 12 months.

  • Martin Plackard’s week: Tuesday
    7 February 2020

    The second in our series of privileged insights to the working life of Martin Plackard, the NHS’s most gifted communicator

  • Martin Plackard’s week: Monday
    30 January 2020

    First in an occasional series of glimpses into a typical week in the life of Martin Plackard, the NHS's most influential strategic communicator

  • A quick guide to quick guides
    24 January 2020

    Few of us have time for long documents that take ages to read or a lot of expertise to put together. That’s where quick guides come in.

  • Towards people and impact
    17 January 2020

    This week the Royal Pharmaceutical Society advertised for a head of engagement and belonging. Such titles can be controversial – but not for Martin Plackard, whose CV features a number of leadership roles in the fields of impact, euphemism management and talent delivery.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Initiatives shortage poses threat to NHS survival

The NHS is facing a critical shortage of initiatives, supplies of which could run out by the end of the decade, leading to department closures and the loss of thousands of jobs. These are the shocking findings of an unpublished report seen by NHS Networks.

The report, No More Burning Platforms: We’re Out of Job, produced by a leading think tank, paints a disturbing picture of a future health service where hundreds of millions of pounds a year currently devoted to transformation programmes, innovation schemes and reports that no one reads could be siphoned off by officials to fund wasteful and inefficient “frontline” services such as hospital A&E departments and GP surgeries.

The government immediately vowed to protect essential services by building a thick ring of special advisers and PR consultants round Richmond House.

Crisis of who cares

Officials at the Department of Health and NHS England privately admit to growing concerns that even if the government meets its commitment to fund the schemes that are already running, it will be unable to meet demand for new ones with catchy names. Experts blame an ageing civil service population, an acute shortage of ideas and rising demand for banner headlines for the looming crisis.

According to the report, supplies of tortuous acronyms, dreadful puns and second-hand slogans are at their lowest level since 1948 and could soon run out altogether. “This could place the future of critical NHS transformation programmes in dire jeopardy, leaving patients literally unaffected,” its authors claim.

Restricted view

The report blames the NHS Five Year Forward View for using up the last remaining supplies of jargon. “Most plans content themselves with one neologism but the Five Year Forward View produced seven new models of care, various synonyms for accountable care organisations (ACOs) and numerous other examples of newspeak. After multispecialty community providers (MCPs), primary and acute care systems (PACS) and acute care collaborations (ACC) there is literally nowhere left to go.”

Officials also worried about how to sustain the View “brand” itself in subsequent years. Already technically less than a four-year view, the document’s authors are already working on “refreshed” versions as interest in the current view begins to wane. Sources claim to have seen early drafts of the Three Year Vista, Two Year Spectacle and One Year Peer into the Abyss.                                                                              

Decisive action task force consultation

The government has unveiled a three point plan to tackle the initiative deficit, including:

  • Creation of a £1bn Initiatives Fund to encourage innovation and spread of new initiatives
  • A new Transformation Task Force to be headed up by a national director for strategic initiatives and new models of programme
  • The immediate removal of import restrictions to encourage an influx of initiatives from overseas.

Not waving but Downing Street

Officials welcome short-term initiatives to recycle existing initiatives, but worry that they can’t be kept going indefinitely. Patients could risk being literally bored to death by Wave 3 of the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund, as policy advisers failed to come up with convincing new names for backdoor schemes to give GPs cash to stop them emigrating to Australia, a Downing Street source admitted.

Endless repeats

Experts warn that Vanguards could soon be eclipsed but that the government has no idea what to do for an encore. NHS England confirmed that the Eclipse and Encore programmes would be unveiled after the autumn spending review.

Programme editor: Julian Patterson


Les Scaife
Les Scaife says:
Oct 16, 2015 02:52 PM

How refreshing that at last someone has realised the commitment, skills and cost benefit the third sector can bring to the table on this problem, albeit years to late. We are at this moment trying to engage with our CCG and social services departments to provide a service 50% lower than the existing Proferred Provider.
Funds are wasted on the large charities who only provide a "signposting service" and who's overheads eat up a huge percentage of the funds.
These funds should be diverted to the third sector organisation who go into people houses and deliver care on the coalface. Unfortunately it is these organisation that are folding due to lack of funding, while the large charities continue to eat up funds but deliver no care.
We provide services to support people with dementia to live in there own home that has been featured in the DWP news letter. We provide care for people who have 24/7 care needs, but the CCG and social services have no wish to engage. If these services were to rolled out nationally there would be a huge cost benefit to local authorities and health services.
It would not be possible for government to engage with every small third sector organisation, but the funds could be handed to the CVS offices nationally, then small organisations could bid for the funds locally. The CVS know what services are required locally, so the money will go where it is needed. The CVS would be responsible to ensure the outcomes would be achieved, and deliver the report to the funders.

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Oct 17, 2015 10:43 PM

Les, I'm not sure if you meant your post to land here. Your comments about the gravitational pull of large charities on funding and the difficulties of smaller third sector organisations in getting a place at the table are very familiar. I hear this a lot. It's hard to know which is the bigger problem: the inability of commissioners to work with smaller organisations or the inability of the latter to make themselves sufficiently "commissionable". I would bet that it's a bit of both.

Clive Spindley
Clive Spindley says:
Oct 21, 2015 09:09 PM

hi Julian, not sure I agree with this, the process to make yourself "commissionable" is a joke, the problem with the way the NHS works is all are focused on the big deal, loads of little deals = loads of work (but IT could save the taxpayer a fortune) as in technology, trust me, big has no advantage over small p.s. hope your dog is still keeping you healthy :-)

Clive Spindley
Clive Spindley says:
Oct 21, 2015 09:01 PM

The amount of money being wasted bi the NHS and bi organisations (funded in a similar way to the NHS) that support the NHS is laughable or criminal - I have no idea any more. I hope to be looking after a dog over Christmas so will exercise it bi running with it. Park runs have done more for the health of people in this country than anything these NHS supporting organisations have ever DONE. Sad but true.

Malcolm Goodson
Malcolm Goodson says:
Oct 17, 2015 09:25 AM

Ah Julian, you brighten my Saturday mornings like bright sunshine through the clouds. Although the issues of which you write are serious, damn serious, your wit often illuminates the absurdity of it all. Perhaps we need to forget everything that has been fed to us over the last 40 years by 'management gurus', who, like the 'old boss', are the 'same as the new boss' and start to recover everything that the NHS has lost over the years. Only the commitment of the staff has remained constant through time; I often wonder how they do it.

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Oct 17, 2015 10:27 PM

I wonder about that too. Thanks for your post, Malcolm.

Peter Counter
Peter Counter says:
Oct 17, 2015 03:04 PM

Please do not worry. This is certainly a major issue, but one that has been foreseen in our rigorous risk assessment process, and we already have a programme up and running to address it. The Programme for Initiative Generation was commissioned in February, and our Outline Business Case was approved in August.

The original plan was to pseudonymise all the PID (Programme Identifiable Data), and thus be able to re-use initiatives and their buzzwords without anyone noticing. While this remains a viable solution, our innovation team has come up with something much better - more sustainable and thus eco-friendly. The staff have dubbed it the PIG Farm, but we are currently running a competition to see if we can find a much less expressive and more boring name. The prize, should you be interested to enter, is an all expenses paid trip to the business case recycling plant in the basement of Quarry House.

The Farm is based on some artificial intelligence technology we have been working on just in case it might be needed - for example if a glitch with Agenda for Change resulted in everyone being sacked. Of course, the system is not that intelligent (we have limited budgets like eveyone else) but is certainly enough for a bit of initiative innovation. The breakthrough came with the application of some Neuro-Linguistic Programming to the cognitive reasoning application processor, which (as you will have guessed) is built on an agile cloud framework.

The result is that we are now able to generate an endless stream of initiatives specifically designed for the health and care system. In phase 1, available at launch early next year, we will be able to provide a very exciting Jargon On Demand service. Phase 2, planned for 4Q 16, will be able to generate entire initiatives complete with faulty business case and plausible but ultimately unachievable benefits. We have ambitions for a Phase 3, not yet approved by the SRO, which will take the money and execute the initiatives without the need for costly and unpredictable human intervention.

So, please do not spread further panic. It is all in hand and we have our best people working on it.

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Oct 17, 2015 10:34 PM

This is the reassurance we were all hoping for, Peter. I should have known better than to doubt the system. I'm very pleased to hear about Jargon On Demand and all the other cloud-based goodies on the horizon. We've relied on outmoded analogue twaddle for too long.
Great post. Thanks.

Clive Spindley
Clive Spindley says:
Oct 21, 2015 08:52 PM

Spot on, just what do they do for their significant salaries? move the money to the front line where IT really is needed (and bi the way patients are on the from line and they need IT too, specifically access to their health data)

Anthea P W Makepeace
Anthea P W Makepeace says:
Dec 10, 2015 11:57 AM

I have discovered a new tool: Called Kaleidoscopic intersectionality - you put the names of patients,diseases and agencies on separate coloured pieces of paper and place in a kaleidoscope, shake gently. You will instantly see a new model for health care where the individual pieces overlap. If that model doesn't satisfy NHS England just shake again and report on the new model Never Ending, endless fun guaranteed, try it as a family Christmas pastime!!