More than the sum of its parts: the integration of The King’s Fund 1987–96

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Part of 120 years of The King's Fund

The latest in our series of blogs celebrating the Fund’s 120th anniversary looks at the history of the Fund in the decade leading up to its centenary. This was a period of significant change both in health policy and within the Fund itself.

In 1988, the NHS turned 40: an event marked not so much by celebrating past achievements (p 7), but rather by a widely perceived funding crisis and concerns about the future provision of health and social care. In the same year, the Prime Minister announced a review of the National Health Service. The resulting White Papers, Working for patients and Caring for the people were published in 1989. 

At this time, the Fund had three faculties: The King’s Fund Institute, The King’s Fund College and The King’s Fund Centre, each of which had separate responsibilities and responded differently to the government’s reforms. The King’s Fund Institute focused on the development of policy and responded to the government’s proposals and White Papers through a series of briefing papers and reports. For example, the Institute produced a briefing on Managed competition in response to the proposed changes in commissioning.

The King’s Fund College was a centre for management and organisational development. It ran several programmes to support changes to the structure of the NHS as a result of the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990. The development of health services was the domain of The King’s Fund Centre, which ran practical workshops and conferences on best practice as well as being involved in service development projects in London. The centre promoted involving patients and the public in decision-making through projects such as the Customer Feedback Resource and the Promoting Patient Choice programme. Other projects tackled health inequalities by focusing on meeting the needs of service users with specific requirements. Examples include the London Health Partnership and the Community Orientated Primary Care programme.

Projects like these involved increased partnership working both within the Fund and with external partners, which reflected the move towards greater integration of the Fund’s three faculties. Robert Maxwell, then Chief Executive of the Fund, argued that together the faculties could ‘have substantially more influence than the sum of their parts’ (p 21). So, in 1995, The King’s Fund Centre, Institute and College relocated from their separate premises in Camden and Bayswater to come together under one roof in Cavendish Square. While the individual faculties of the Fund remained distinct – becoming the Development Centre, Policy Institute and Management College – this was a move towards becoming a more integrated organisation, recognisable as the Fund we know today.  

Following the move to Cavendish Square, the Fund launched a major internal and external consultation (p 4) focused on what the organisation’s role, strategy and identity should be. The results of this project would help prepare the way for centenary celebrations and the new century beyond. Our final blog in this series brings us up to date, looking at the Fund’s work over the past 20 years.

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