Chapter three – What will the future look like? New models of care

The traditional divide between primary care, community services, and hospitals – largely unaltered since the birth of the NHS – is increasingly a barrier to the personalised and coordinated health services patients need. And just as GPs and hospitals tend to be rigidly demarcated, so too are social care and mental health services even though people increasingly need all three.

Over the next five years and beyond the NHS will increasingly need to dissolve these traditional boundaries. Long term conditions are now a central task of the NHS; caring for these needs requires a partnership with patients over the long term rather than providing single, unconnected ‘episodes’ of care. As a result there is now quite wide consensus on the direction we will be taking.

  • Increasingly we need to manage systems – networks of care – not just organisations.
  • Out-of-hospital care needs to become a much larger part of what the NHS does.
  • Services need to be integrated around the patient. For example a patient with cancer needs their mental health and social care coordinated around them. Patients with mental illness need their physical health addressed at the same time.
  • We should learn much faster from the best examples, not just from within the UK but internationally.
  • And as we introduce them, we need to evaluate new care models to establish which produce the best experience for patients and the best value for money.

Emerging models

In recent years parts of the NHS have begun doing elements of this. The strategic plans developed by local areas show that in some places the future is already emerging. For example:

In Kent, 20 GPs and almost 150 staff operate from three modern sites providing many of the tests, investigations, minor injuries and minor surgery usually provided in hospital. It shows what can be done when general practice operates at scale. Better results, better care, a better experience for patients and significant savings.

In Airedale, nursing and residential homes are linked by secure video to the hospital allowing consultations with nurses and consultants both in 17 and out of normal hours – for everything from cuts and bumps to diabetes management to the onset of confusion. Emergency admissions from these homes have been reduced by 35% and A&E attendances by 53%. Residents rate the service highly.

In Cornwall, trained volunteers and health and social care professionals work side-by-side to support patients with long term conditions to meet their own health and life goals.

In Rotherham, GPs and community matrons work with advisors who know what voluntary services are available for patients with long term conditions. This “social prescribing service” has cut the need for visits to accident and emergency, out-patient appointments and hospital admissions.

In London, integrated care pioneers that combine NHS, GP and social care services have improved services for patients, with fewer people moving permanently into nursing care homes. They have also shown early promise in reducing emergency admissions. Greenwich has saved nearly £1m for the local authority and over 5% of community health expenditure.

All of these approaches seem to improve the quality of care and patients’ experience. They also deliver better value for money; some may even cut costs. They are pieces of the jigsaw that will make up a better NHS. But there are too few of them, and they are too isolated. Nowhere do they provide the full picture of a 21st century NHS that has yet to emerge. Together they describe the way the NHS of the future will look.

One size fits all?

So to meet the changing needs of patients, to capitalise on the opportunities presented by new technologies and treatments, and to unleash system efficiencies more widely, we intend to support and stimulate the creation of a number of major new care models that can be deployed in different combinations locally across England.

However England is too diverse – both in its population and its current health services – to pretend that a single new model of care should apply everywhere. Times have changed since the last such major blueprint, the 1962 Hospital Plan for England and Wales. What’s right for Cumbria won’t be right for Coventry; what makes sense in Manchester and in Winchester will be different.

But that doesn’t mean there are an infinite number of new care models. While the answer is not one-size-fits-all, nor is it simply to let ‘a thousand flowers bloom’. Cumbria and Devon and Northumberland have quite a lot in common in designing their NHS of the future. So do the hospitals on the outer ring around Manchester and the outer ring around London. So do many other parts of the country.

That’s why our approach will be to identify the characteristics of similar health communities across England, and then jointly work with them to consider which of the new options signalled by this Forward View constitute viable ways forward for their local health and care services over the next five years and beyond.

In all cases however one of the most important changes will be to expand and strengthen primary and ‘out of hospital’ care. Given the pressures that GPs are under, this is dependent on several immediate steps to stabilise general practice – see Box 3.1.

Box 3.1: A new deal for primary care

General practice, with its registered list and everyone having access to a family doctor, is one of the great strengths of the NHS, but it is under severe strain. Even as demand is rising, the number of people choosing to become a GP is not keeping pace with the growth in funded training posts – in part because primary care services have been under-resourced compared to hospitals. So over the next five years we will invest more in primary care. Steps we will take include:

  • Stabilise core funding for general practice nationally over the next two years while an independent review is undertaken of how resources are fairly made available to primary care in different areas.
  • Give GP-led Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) more influence over the wider NHS budget, enabling a shift in investment from acute to primary and community services.
  • Provide new funding through schemes such as the Challenge Fund to support new ways of working and improved access to services.
  • Expand as fast as possible the number of GPs in training while training more community nurses and other primary care staff. Increase investment in new roles, and in returner and retention schemes and ensure that current rules are not inflexibly putting off potential returners.
  • Expand funding to upgrade primary care infrastructure and scope of services.
  • Work with CCGs and others to design new incentives to encourage new GPs and practices to provide care in under-doctored areas to tackle health inequalities.
  • Build the public’s understanding that pharmacies and on-line resources can help them deal with coughs, colds and other minor ailments without the need for a GP appointment or A&E visit.

Here we set out details of the principal additional care models over and above the status quo which we will be promoting in England over the next five years.

New care model – Multispecialty Community Providers (MCPs)

Smaller independent GP practices will continue in their current form where patients and GPs want that. However, as the Royal College of General Practitioners has pointed out, in many areas primary care is entering the next stage of its evolution. As GP practices are increasingly employing salaried and sessional doctors, and as women now comprise half of GPs, the traditional model has been evolving.

Primary care of the future will build on the traditional strengths of ‘expert generalists’, proactively targeting services at registered patients with complex ongoing needs such as the frail elderly or those with chronic conditions, and working much more intensively with these patients. Future models will expand the leadership of primary care to include nurses, therapists and other community based professionals. It could also offer some care in fundamentally different ways, making fuller use of digital technologies, new skills and roles, and offering greater convenience for patients.

To offer this wider scope of services, and enable new ways of delivering care, we will make it possible for extended group practices to form – either as federations, networks or single organisations.

These Multispecialty Community Providers (MCPs) would become the focal point for a far wider range of care needed by their registered patients.

  • As larger group practices they could in future begin employing consultants or take them on as partners, bringing in senior nurses, consultant physicians, geriatricians, paediatricians and psychiatrists to work alongside community nurses, therapists, pharmacists, psychologists, social workers, and other staff.
  • These practices would shift the majority of outpatient consultations and ambulatory care out of hospital settings.
  • They could take over the running of local community hospitals which could substantially expand their diagnostic services as well as other services such as dialysis and chemotherapy.
  • GPs and specialists in the group could be credentialed in some cases to directly admit their patients into acute hospitals, with out-of-hours 20
    inpatient care being supervised by a new cadre of resident ‘hospitalists’ – something that already happens in other countries.
  • They could in time take on delegated responsibility for managing the health service budget for their registered patients. Where funding is pooled with local authorities, a combined health and social care budget could be delegated to Multispecialty Community Providers.
  • These new models would also draw on the ‘renewable energy’ of carers, volunteers and patients themselves, accessing hard-to-reach groups and taking new approaches to changing health behaviours.

There are already a number of practices embarking on this journey, including high profile examples in the West Midlands, London and elsewhere. For example, in Birmingham, one partnership has brought together 10 practices employing 250 staff to serve about 65,000 patients on 13 sites. It will shortly have three local hubs with specialised GPs that will link in community and social care services while providing central out-of-hours services using new technology.

To help others who want to evolve in this way, and to identify the most promising models that can be spread elsewhere, we will work with emerging practice groups to address barriers to change, service models, access to funding, optimal use of technology, workforce and infrastructure. As with the other models discussed in this section, we will also test these models with patient groups and our voluntary sector partners.

New care model – Primary and Acute Care Systems (PACS)

A range of contracting and organisational forms are now being used to better integrate care, including lead/prime providers and joint ventures.

We will now permit a new variant of integrated care in some parts of England by allowing single organisations to provide NHS list-based GP and hospital services, together with mental health and community care services.

The leadership to bring about these ‘vertically’ integrated Primary and Acute Care Systems (PACS) may be generated from different places in different local health economies.

  • In some circumstances – such as in deprived urban communities where local general practice is under strain and GP recruitment is proving hard – hospitals will be permitted to open their own GP surgeries with registered lists. This would allow the accumulated surpluses and investment powers of NHS Foundation Trusts to kickstart the expansion of new style primary care in areas with high health inequalities. Safeguards will be needed to ensure that they do this in ways that reinforce out-of-hospital care, rather than general practice simply becoming a feeder for hospitals still providing care in the traditional ways.
  • In other circumstances, the next stage in the development of a mature Multispecialty Community Provider (see section above) could be that it takes over the running of its main district general hospital.
  • At their most radical, PACS would take accountability for the whole health needs of a registered list of patients, under a delegated capitated budget – similar to the Accountable Care Organisations that are emerging in Spain, the United States, Singapore, and a number of other countries.

PACS models are complex. They take time and technical expertise to implement. As with any model there are also potential unintended side effects that need to be managed. We will work with a small number of areas to test these approaches with the aim of developing prototypes that work, before promoting the most promising models for adoption by the wider NHS.

New care model – urgent and emergency care networks

The care that people receive in England’s Emergency Departments is, and will remain, one of the yardsticks by which the NHS as a whole will be judged. Although both quality and access have improved markedly over the years, the mounting pressures on these hospital departments illustrate the need to transition to a more sustainable model of care.

More and more people are using A&E – with 22 million visits a year. Compared to five years ago, the NHS in England handles around 3,500 extra attendances every single day, and in many places, A&E is running at full stretch. However, the 185 hospital emergency departments in England are only a part of the urgent and emergency care system. The NHS responds to more than 100 million urgent calls or visits every year.

Over the next five years, the NHS will do far better at organising and simplifying the system. This will mean:

  • Helping patients get the right care, at the right time, in the right place, making more appropriate use of primary care, community mental health teams, ambulance services and community pharmacies, as well as the 379 urgent care centres throughout the country. This will partly be achieved by evening and weekend access to GPs or nurses working from community bases equipped to provide a much greater range of tests and treatments; ambulance services empowered to make more decisions, treating patients and making referrals in a more flexible way; and far greater use of pharmacists.
  • Developing networks of linked hospitals that ensure patients with the most serious needs get to specialist emergency centres – drawing on the success of major trauma centres, which have saved 30% more of the lives of the worst injured.
  • Ensuring that hospital patients have access to seven day services where this makes a clinical difference to outcomes.
  • Proper funding and integration of mental health crisis services, including liaison psychiatry.
  • A strengthened clinical triage and advice service that links the system together and helps patients navigate it successfully.
  • New ways of measuring the quality of the urgent and emergency services; new funding arrangements; and new responses to the workforce requirements that will make these new networks possible.

New care model – viable smaller hospitals

Some commentators have argued that smaller district general hospitals should be merged and/or closed. In fact, England already has one of the more centralised hospital models amongst advanced health systems. It is right that these hospitals should not be providing complex acute services where there is evidence that high volumes are associated with high quality. And some services and buildings will inevitably and rightly need to be re-provided in other locations – just as they have done in the past and will continue to be in every other western country.

However to help sustain local hospital services where the best clinical solution is affordable, has the support of local commissioners and communities, we will now take three sets of actions.

First, NHS England and Monitor will work together to consider whether any adjustments are needed to the NHS payment regime to reflect the costs of delivering safe and efficient services for smaller providers relative to larger ones. The latest quarterly figures show that larger foundation trusts had EBITDA margins of 5% compared to -0.4% for smaller providers.

Second, building on the earlier work of Monitor looking at the costs of running smaller hospitals, and on the Royal College of Physicians Future Hospitals initiative, we will work with those hospitals to examine new models of medical staffing and other ways of achieving sustainable cost structures.

Third, we will create new organisational models for smaller acute hospitals that enable them to gain the benefits of scale without necessarily having to centralise services. Building on the recommendations of the forthcoming Dalton Review, we intend to promote at least three new models:

  • In one model, a local acute hospital might share management either of the whole institution or of their ‘back office’ with other similar hospitals not necessarily located in their immediate vicinity. These type of ‘hospital chains’ already operate in places such as Germany and Scandinavia.
  • In another new model, a smaller local hospital might have some of its services on a site provided by another specialised provider – for example Moorfields eye hospital operates in 23 locations in London and the South East. Several cancer specialist providers are also considering providing services on satellite sites.
  • And as indicated in the PACS model above, a further new option is that a local acute hospital and its local primary and community services could form an integrated provider.

New care model – specialised care

In some services there is a compelling case for greater concentration of care. In these services there is a strong relationship between the number of patients and the quality of care, derived from the greater experience these more practiced clinicians have, access to costly specialised facilities and equipment, and the greater standardisation of care that tends to occur. For example, consolidating 32 stroke units to 8 specialist ones in London achieved a 17% reduction in 30-day mortality and a 7% reduction in patient length of stay.

The evidence suggests that similar benefits could be had for most specialised surgery, and some cancer and other services. For example, in Denmark reducing by two thirds the number of hospitals that perform colorectal cancer surgery has improved post-operative mortality after 2 years by 62%. In Germany, the highest volume centres that treat prostate cancer have substantially fewer complications. The South West London Elective Orthopaedic Centre achieves lower post-operative complication rates than do many hospitals which operate on fewer patients.

In services where the relationship between quality and patient volumes is this strong, NHS England will now work with local partners to drive consolidation through a programme of three-year rolling reviews. We will also look to these specialised providers to develop networks of services over a geography, integrating different organisations and services around patients, using innovations such as prime contracting and/or delegated capitated budgets. To take one example: cancer. This would enable patients to have chemotherapy, support and follow up care in their local community hospital or primary care facility, whilst having access to world-leading facilities for their surgery and radiotherapy. In line with the UK Strategy for Rare Diseases, we will also explore establishing specialist centres for rare diseases to improve the coordination of care for their patients.

New care model – modern maternity services

Having a baby is the most common reason for hospital admission in England. Births are up by almost a quarter in the last decade, and are at their highest in 40 years.

Recent research shows that for low risk pregnancies babies born at midwife-led units or at home did as well as babies born in obstetric units, with fewer interventions. Four out of five women live within a 30 minute drive of both an obstetric unit and a midwife-led unit, but research by the Women’s Institute and the National Childbirth Trust suggests that while only a quarter of women want to give birth in a hospital obstetrics unit, over 85% actually do so.

To ensure maternity services develop in a safe, responsive and efficient manner, in addition to other actions underway – including increasing midwife numbers – we will:

  • Commission a review of future models for maternity units, to report by next summer, which will make recommendations on how best to sustain and develop maternity units across the NHS.
  • Ensure that tariff-based NHS funding supports the choices women make, rather than constraining them.
  • As a result, make it easier for groups of midwives to set up their own NHS-funded midwifery services.

New care model – enhanced health in care homes

One in six people aged 85 or over are living permanently in a care home. Yet data suggest that had more active health and rehabilitation support been available, some people discharged from hospital to care homes could have avoided permanent admission. Similarly, the Care Quality Commission and the British Geriatrics Society have shown that many people with dementia living in care homes are not getting their health needs regularly assessed and met. One consequence is avoidable admissions to hospital.

In partnership with local authority social services departments, and using the opportunity created by the establishment of the Better Care Fund, we will work with the NHS locally and the care home sector to develop new shared models of in-reach support, including medical reviews, medication reviews, and rehab services. In doing so we will build on the success of models which have been shown to improve quality of life, reduce hospital bed use by a third, and save significantly more than they cost.

How will we support the co-design and implementation of these new care models?

Some parts of the country will be able to continue commissioning and providing high quality and affordable health services using their current care models, and without any adaptation along the lines described above.

However, previous versions of local ‘five year plans’ by provider trusts and CCGs suggest that many areas will need to consider new options if they are to square the circle between the desire to improve quality, respond to rising patient volumes, and live within the expected local funding.

In some places, including major conurbations, we therefore expect several of these alternative models to evolve in parallel.

In other geographies it may make sense for local communities to discuss convergence of care models for the future. This will require a new perspective where leaders look beyond their individual organisations’ interests and towards the future development of whole health care economies – and are rewarded for doing so.

It will also require a new type of partnership between national bodies and local leaders. That is because to succeed in designing and implementing these new care models, the NHS locally will need national bodies jointly to exercise discretion in the application of their payment rules, regulatory approaches, staffing models and other policies, as well as possibly providing technical and transitional support.

We will therefore now work with local communities and leaders to identify what changes are needed in how national and local organisations best work together, and will jointly develop:

  • Detailed prototyping of each of the new care models described above, together with any others that may be proposed that offer the potential to deliver the necessary transformation – in each case identifying current exemplars, potential benefits, risks and transition costs.
  • A shared method of assessing the characteristics of each health economy, to help inform local choice of preferred models, promote peer learning with similar areas, and allow joint intervention in health economies that are furthest from where they need to be.
  • National and regional expertise and support to implement care model change rapidly and at scale. The NHS is currently spending several hundred million pounds on bodies that directly or indirectly could support this work, but the way in which improvement and clinical engagement happens can be fragmented and unfocused. We will therefore create greater alignment in the work of strategic clinical networks, clinical senates, NHS IQ, the NHS Leadership Academy and the Academic Health Science Centres and Networks.
  • National flexibilities in the current regulatory, funding and pricing regimes to assist local areas to transition to better care models.
  • Design of a model to help pump-prime and ‘fast track’ a cross-section of the new care models. We will back the plans likely to have the greatest impact for patients, so that by the end of the next Parliament the benefits and costs of the new approaches are clearly demonstrable, allowing informed decisions about future investment as the economy improves. This pump-priming model could also unlock assets held by NHS Property Services, surplus NHS property and support Foundation Trusts that decide to use accrued savings on their balance sheets to help local service transformation.

Box 3.2: Five year ambitions for mental health

Mental illness is the single largest cause of disability in the UK and each year about one in four people suffer from a mental health problem. The cost to the economy is estimated to be around £100 billion annually – roughly the cost of the entire NHS. Physical and mental health are closely linked – people with severe and prolonged mental illness die on average 15 to 20 years earlier than other people – one of the greatest health inequalities in England. However only around a quarter of those with mental health conditions are in treatment, and only 13 per cent of the NHS budget goes on such treatments when mental illness accounts for almost a quarter of the total burden of disease.

Over the next five years the NHS must drive towards an equal response to mental and physical health, and towards the two being treated together. We
have already made a start, through the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Programme – double the number of people got such treatment last year compared with four years ago. Next year, for the first time, there will be waiting standards for mental health. Investment in new beds for young people with the most intensive needs to prevent them being admitted miles away from where they live, or into adult wards, is already under way, along with more money for better case management and early intervention.

This, however, is only a start. We have a much wider ambition to achieve genuine parity of esteem between physical and mental health by 2020.
Provided new funding can be made available, by then we want the new waiting time standards to have improved so that 95 rather than 75 per cent of people referred for psychological therapies start treatment within six weeks and those experiencing a first episode of psychosis do so within a fortnight. We also want to expand access standards to cover a comprehensive range of mental health services, including children’s services, eating disorders, and those with bipolar conditions. We need new commissioning approaches to help ensure that happens, and extra staff to coordinate such care. Getting there will require further investment.

Back to The NHS Five Year Forward View menu