16 July, 2010
In the White Paper issued earlier this week Health Secretary Andrew Lansley set out the Government’s plans to reform the NHS and reduce health management costs by 45%. These reforms will have far-reaching implications for everyone connected to healthcare provision, and will fundamentally change the way in which many organisations communicate.
The reforms will see GPs acting as commissioners in charge of around ?80 billion worth of NHS budgets, all hospitals operated as social enterprise-style ‘foundation trusts’, and SHAs and PCTs abolished by 2013. Charities, social enterprises and private sector organisations will be able to sell their services to the NHS through these models – a move that some see as a major opportunity and others view as the first step towards privatisation.
Whatever your views on the pros and cons, the reforms will cast a new light on the charities and social enterprises who may be interested in helping advise on, or deliver, health services. Now is the time for all these organisations to think about the implications this has for the way they talk about what they do, how they get those messages across to those who will wield the purse strings, and the way they engage others in this competitive space.
Not-for-profit organisations will be able to offer an invaluable source of experience, specialist knowledge and independent counsel to GP consortia and foundation trusts, but they will have to be able to play the game in a pro-market agenda.
It won’t be enough to keep telling the touching stories of people who’ve benefited from the organisation’s work in the past (important as that is) – they will have to find a way to compete with the well-oiled promotional machines of their private sector rivals, to make sure their expertise can cut through the noise and grab the attention of a new breed of busy and inexperienced commissioners. Success will hinge on demonstrating creativity, capacity, efficiency and effectiveness, and in many cases a proven ability to work together with other organisations to deliver major services.
This is a new challenge, and one that many will be ill-prepared to tackle unless they invest time now in building their proposition, engaging potential partners and creating a new kind of clarity about what they can offer.