Public services are currently facing an unprecedented set of challenges, and three main factors in combination define a new era.
Firstly, ever-increasing demands from the public about what public services should deliver, for example continually-rising expectations around health services (for new drugs, greater accessibility of services etc). Secondly, long-term challenges are becoming more pressing and public services are bearing the burden. Thirdly, given the state of the public finances, we are at the end of a period of significant investment in public services. Increased spending on public services over the past 10 years has responded to increasing demand, as well as supporting some new types of services. This will no longer be the case in the future.
These pressures are nowhere more keenly felt than in the NHS where saving money is going to be critical as a result of increasing costs and rising demand. However, the NHS has been geared towards growth. Now it must be radically refocused on doing more for less. It is being charged to save £15 – £20 billion over the next few years, yet initial projections suggest that cost efficiency and productivity gains (all in the face of maintaining quality) cannot achieve this magnitude of savings without significantly different practice.
The NHS has already recognised that alternative approaches and solutions are therefore necessary – radically different and innovative ways of identifying, creating and scaling solutions, delivering services and involving patients and users are needed.
This paper sets out the case for innovation in the health service and illustrates the role the Regional Innovations Funds have to play within this.