Light at the end of the tunnel
The publication last year of the King’s Fund’s alternative guide to the NHS prompted a wide range of responses.
Overwhelmingly, as a piece of communication, this engaging animation had all the bases covered.
It was informative, amusing, and built to a crescendo in which the whole really was greater than the sum of the parts. Most observers were highly complementary, pointing out that, although a picture of mind-boggling complexity, as least each stakeholder could be seen – and could see where they fitted into the, admittedly very large, picture.
Our work wide ranging work in public health with a lot of these organisations, such as Clinical Commissioning Groups, Commissioning Support Units, health charities and specialist primary care services suggests that many are reacting well to change – and realising that to rise to the challenge they need to embrace the marketplace and shape themselves and their services to compete and win.
Improving outcomes for patients and service users should be front and centre, driving strategy and informing products and services. Engaging with stakeholders, developing an evidenced based marketing strategy as well as a strong proposition and a recognisable brand point to a clear understanding of the need to be distinctive and to position themselves and their strengths prominently in a busy marketplace, patrolled by private sector businesses keen to move into their territory.
Organisations that are emerging and blossoming within the latest iteration of our national treasure carry vast reserves of priceless knowledge and commitment and an inspiring public sector ethos. The trick will be to harness this unique combination and to build on it by adding new commercial skills and know how across the organisations. However this will require a significant shift in mindset amongst staff, many of whom chose a career in the public sector to deliver positive change for patients, and not to be part of a commercial operation. This challenge is exacerbated further by growing concerns of low staff morale, as a recent Kings Fund report highlighted.
So like the animation so skilfully illustrated, the picture remains complex, confusing even. But our experience tells us that there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel, for those organisations that are switched on at least.
We’d love to hear your perspectives…..