Business > Efficiency

NHS England unveils 29 “vanguard” areas

Neil Merrett Published 11 March 2015

First wave of strategy will kick off next month to outline best practice for wider roll out of integrated care models linking up GP, hospital and community services


An initial tranche of 29 "vanguard" areas has been established by NHS England to support health and social care providers to outline local approaches for more innovative treatment plans based around integrated services that can then be extended to other parts of the country.

From April, the vanguards will work with authorities on developing healthcare services that will combine home care, mental health and community nursing, GP services and hospital treatment for the first time in the history of the NHS, according to the Department of Health (DH).

The strategy has been spun out from NHS England's Five Year Forward View report that was released last year to outline more efficient plans for the implementation of technology and data sharing to improve the patient experience and address a potential £30bn annual healthcare funding gap by 2021.

The 29 vanguards, which have been chosen with input from 269 groups of nurses, doctors and care providers across the UK, have been divided into three different care models:

- Multispecialty community providers (MCPs) designed to move specialist care out of hospitals and into the community
- Integrated primary and acute care systems (PACS) that will aim to join up GP, hospital, community and mental health services
- Models of enhanced health in care homes to offer older people more efficient, integrated health, care and rehabilitation services

The full list of the 29 vanguards chosen to support these individual models can be viewed here.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the vanguards were a key part of long-term reforms sought across the NHS.

"Instead of the usual top-down administrative tinkering, we're backing radical care redesign by frontline nurses, doctors and other staff - in partnership with their patients and local communities. From Wakefield to Whitstable, and Yeovil to Harrogate, we're going to see distinctive solutions to shared challenges, which the whole of the NHS will be able to learn from," he said.

Under this plan, the NHS will next month begin working with each vanguard site to deliver support packages that can help accelerate change and offer an intensive programme of evaluation to provide evidence of successful initiatives that can be expanded across the UK.

"All areas will benefit from a wider support and learning package which will be rolled out later this year, based on the learning from the vanguard sites. Additionally, as a result of the many examples of excellent models up and down the country, a wider programme of support is being put in place for some of the health and social care systems that applied to be part of the programme. This is being supported by the Kings Fund," said the DH.

Speaking at last week's e-Health Week conference in London, Simon Stevens argued that no industry had ever reinvented itself on the scale required by the NHS over the next five years without having a strong technological underpinning.

"So getting tech and information right over the next five years is going to be essential to the transformation that we need," he said.

Kable's research director Andrena Logue added, "One of the most reassuring aspects of this approach is the realistic tone being set by NHS England in relation to all of the vanguards making it through. Yet this really only marks the first step towards evidencing best practice, and having the appropriate governance in place to facilitate relevant care models to be replicated nationally.

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