Thursday, November 18, 2010

Planning is the only the beginning

“Efficiency is the ‘main game’ in the NHS” and “the eight ways to save cash and improve care” are just two headlines I’ve seen recently on one healthcare news website (HSJ) regarding cost and productivity improvement. On my twitter feed the word efficiency is always ‘popping’ up. It’s interesting that the way to address efficiency has, in one way or another, been wrapped inside an acronym, QIPP, which still remains somewhat mysterious to me. Kate Hall, a Health Leadership Fellow, recently blogged on HSJ ( identifying that QIPP and national workstreams were published so long ago yet she states:

“I’m not sure why there is little or no information published on them nor why it is not available for people to look up and heaven forbid, see how they can support, help or get ideas

The only website I’ve found is on NHS Evidence ( but resources are still short of what they should be and examples are not updated regularly enough. The one problem I find with QIPP is that it’s been made into something apart from driving productivity and quality improvement that means it could easily viewed, quite dangerously, as a project or programme. In PRINCE 2 terms I’m talking here, as something that exists temporarily, when it should be instilled in the hearts and minds of NHS leaders throughout the country. Few NHS organisations are talking about QIPP, they’re talking about Cost Improvement Programmes which may be due to the lack of resources and a lack of understanding for what QIPP is really about.

The obvious action for Trust directors at the moment is to plan for big change, in anticipation of what may be 6% of budget savings. With QIPP in mind it's positive that such a concept will encourage more analysis around cost and productivity improvement, however the problem still remains that the output from this needs to driven. This is where the problem lies because only the ‘easy wins’ get a high profile and the real meaty cost saving ideas are left alone for fear of multiple reasons – before you know it CIP values are falling away and become at serious risk of under-achieving.

Perhaps this is too simple a view – I intended to summarise it but the hard fact remains that implementation is challenging. It requires tough project management with solid plans and well managed risks with an understanding of change management thrown in the mix– right now that’s what NHS organisations need to realise savings and looking to QIPP is only going to produce ideas for this process – at the very best.

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