Tackling major health challenges in England - The King's Fund reveals new approach to supporting the NHS

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The King’s Fund has announced a series of new initiatives and projects to take forward its work to improve health care.

The independent health charity is creating a health care improvement arm to put its expertise in research, policy analysis and supporting leaders into practice. The King’s Fund will work directly with clinicians and managers to help them drive up standards, deliver better value and bring about lasting improvements in key areas. These include:

  • Improving the safety of maternity services
    Following The King’s Fund’s inquiry into the safety of maternity services in 2008, it is now working with midwives, obstetricians and key organisations throughout the country to introduce proven safety tools and techniques. The King’s Fund will work with a number of maternity teams to improve the safety of services for mothers and babies as part of an improvement network to be launched later this year. This will evaluate the impact of new approaches and share learning.

  • Ensuring quality while reducing spend
    Later this year The King’s Fund will launch a programme that analyses the scale and implications of reduced NHS spending and seeks out ways to help doctors, nurses and managers transform the quality of care, despite tighter budgets.

  • End-of-life care
    Most people would prefer to die at home, but at present only one in four are given that opportunity. Working with Marie Curie Cancer Care and others, The King’s Fund is developing new ways to give more patients a ‘good death’ – in the surroundings and with the support they choose. We also plan to assess progress in implementing the government’s end-of-life care strategy.

  • The patient experience
    Working with patients, staff and hospital boards, The King’s Fund’s The Point of Care programme aims to help hospital staff transform services and deliver the quality of care they would want for themselves and their families. The programme will research, test and share new approaches to improving the way care is delivered.

The King’s Fund is also revamping its role in supporting those who work in health and social care – both online with a new website and information and support services, as well as with a range of new facilities in its central London headquarters. New facilities include a 225-seat auditorium and adjoining conservatory; an information centre, providing free access to The King’s Fund’s extensive database and health management library; and a Friends scheme, offering special events and updates as well as a lounge and ‘touch down’ space for anyone involved in health and social care.

Announcing these developments and the granting by the Queen of a new Royal Charter for the organisation, The King’s Fund’s Chief Executive Niall Dickson said:

'Over the next few years the NHS is facing the prospect of much tighter budgets while attempting to deliver much better services. This will require strong leadership, creativity and greater use of evidence to drive change. We want to use our expertise in shaping policy, transforming services and supporting leaders to help health professionals improve standards and deliver better value.

'The government has rightly put improving the quality of care centre stage – we aim to be at the heart of this. We want to be more relevant to more people working in the health service and we hope that our health care improvement work with frontline services will help them take ideas and put them into practice. Our new Royal Charter, which came into force at the beginning of the year, gives us modern governance arrangements and provides greater clarity about how we can have most impact during this crucial time.'

The King’s Fund has also strengthened its activities in policy analysis, research and leadership development and will take forward a number of major projects, including:

  • Inquiry into the quality of general practice in England – this major 18-month inquiry will examine the quality of care provided in general practice with the aim of establishing a set of measures that can be used by GPs and other primary care professionals, commissioners and regulators to help them compare and assess the quality of patient care in different practices.
  • An analysis of variations in health care – The King’s Fund will examine variations in cancer spending and productivity across primary care trusts, and also the variations in care people from different ethnic and social backgrounds receive from their GPs.
  • Improving care for older people and those with long-term conditions – The King’s Fund will produce an independent assessment of the options within the forthcoming Green Paper on social care funding and work to encourage political and public consensus on the way forward. We are also reviewing our PARR software tool, which identifies those most at risk of admission to hospital, and evaluating government plans for personal health budgets.  
  • Developing leaders – the NHS is now commissioning The King’s Fund to do more work than ever to support senior managers and clinicians. In response, The King’s Fund is launching The Network, exclusively for the development and support of NHS Chief Executives; a global network enabling emerging leaders to connect with their peers around the world; and a set of programmes to help senior clinicians to balance the demands of clinical practice with leadership and managerial responsibilities.

Notes to editors

  1. For further information or interviews, please contact The King’s Fund press and public affairs office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
  2. The King’s Fund is a charity that seeks to understand how the health system in England can be improved. Using that insight, we help to shape policy and transform services. Our work includes research, analysis, leadership development and service improvement. We also offer a wide range of resources to help those who work in health share knowledge, learning and ideas. The King’s Fund is incorporated by a Royal Charter that was granted by Her Majesty the Queen in 2008 and which came into being on 1 January 2009. Previously, The King’s Fund was known officially as the King Edward’s Hospital Fund for London, and was established in 1907 by an Act of Parliament. Her Majesty the Queen acts as patron of The King’s Fund, and the Prince of Wales, HRH Prince Charles, has been an active President since 1986.
  3. In February 2008 The Fund published Safe Births: Everybody's business, an independent inquiry into the safety of maternity services in England. The inquiry was led by Professor Onora O'Neill, a senior figure in medical ethics and President of the British Academy. She was assisted by a number of panel members and expert advisers, selected for their expertise in areas related to health and patient safety. Following the inquiry and the publication of other reports, guidance documents and reviews, The King’s Fund launched the Safer Births programme. This is a service improvement programme run by The King’s Fund with national and local partners. It aims to improve the safety of maternity services by supporting frontline professionals. Find out more on the Safer Births project page.
  4. In 2004 Marie Curie launched the Delivering Choice Programme, which aims to develop and help provide the best possible services for patients at the end of their lives, allowing them to make free and informed choices about their place of treatment and death. A process of ongoing evaluation began in April 2007 and will continue for three years, aiming to improve service delivery. Find out more on the Choice at the End of Life project page.
  5. The King’s Fund’s The Point of Care programme aims to transform patients’ experience of care in hospital. The goal of the programme is to enable health care staff in hospitals to deliver the quality of care they would want for themselves and their own families. We are working with patients and their families, staff and hospital boards to research, test and share new approaches to improving patients' experience. The programme published a paper in December 2008, Seeing the Person in the Patient: The Point of Care review paper, which assessed the scale and nature of the problems patients sometimes experience. To read the review paper and to find out more about the innovative and proven initiatives used by the programme, see The Point of Care project page.