The Health Foundation recently published a new strategy, with ambitious plans for the next 3 years. 

Developing the strategy involved a lot of reflection on how we can make the most of our unique role as an independent foundation. With one of the largest endowments of any foundation in the UK, we are able to invest about £39m every year in our mission to bring about better health and health care for people in the UK. 

What do modern foundations do? 

Outside mainstream services, foundations are unusual in that they can define their scope, fund for the long term and take risks. There’s no shortage of areas to fund to improve health and health care.  

One option is to select a few pressing issues today, and fund projects to help. Another is to try to anticipate tomorrow’s needs, influencing policy direction and funding projects to help. A third is to do all the above, and work with others to co-fund significant national initiatives aiming to make a bigger difference. 

All approaches are valid, but the Health Foundation’s strategy is in this third camp. We’ll be active both on national policy and front-line practice, looking at tomorrow as well as today. We’ll be funding policy analysis and research, practical projects on the ground, and boosting the capabilities of networks and individuals to be effective. And all working with others.

The road ahead 

Over the next three years you’ll see us increasingly active on health issues, working to reduce inequalities, improve the health and wellbeing of young people, and demonstrating how good health is an asset necessary for future prosperity. 

For example, our two year inquiry into the health prospects for young people will be published later this year. What is life like for young people today? And what can be done to increase their chances of flourishing in the future? This rich analysis involved young people themselves asking their peers. 

We’ve funded an analysis by Professor Sir Michael Marmot’s team of the progress made to reduce inequalities in health, 10 years after his ground-breaking report Fair society, healthy lives. Looking at the gaping differences in health for people living in the North East, North West and West Midlands to people living in the South East of England, Marmot’s analysis is needed now more than ever. During 2019, a programme of research will be exploring the importance of health to social and economic outcomes. And we’ve brought together national organisations in a powerful new partnership, the Collaboration for Wellbeing and Health, who will be working together to create the conditions for people to live healthier lives. 

You’ll see us busy understanding the quality of care offered by the NHS and suggesting a way ahead for the future. For example from tracking national and international indicators in key areas, to producing deeper analyses on key issues like the care of people with multiple health conditions or why demand is rising. 

We’ll be producing innovative analyses using the very latest methods. This includes exploring new ways to link patient data across different health and care services through a Networked Data Lab, and continuing our cutting-edge analysis of the impact of new models of care through the work of the Improvement Analytics Unit. Plus more reviews like the one by Mike Richards and colleagues of 20 years of cancer care to find out how progress was made.

Speeding up improvement

How to speed up improvement in quality and efficiency of care is a question asked the world over. As potential answers, much more attention now is being given to data, new technology and innovation and how to spread it. We’ll be working across all these areas, funding developments and supporting the NHS and others to help build the skills and knowledge among local organisations and teams to improve care. And of course the Q Community, now an active network of almost 3,000 people across the UK, will continue to thrive. 

Our grant programmes will continue to help front line teams to make improvements in health and care – check all current opportunities on our website and get applying. And it will be very exciting to see The Healthcare Improvement Studies (THIS) Institute, funded by the Foundation, develop its pioneering research to improve quality and safety in health care.

Planning ahead

It’s a cliché that governments don’t think long-term enough. This year we’re kicking off a two-year Shaping Health Futures programme, looking at how future trends and possibilities can best be prepared for in today’s strategies. And later in 2019 we’ll be launching the Health and Social Care Sustainability Research Centre doing long-term detailed supply and demand projections for health and care services, building on the work we did with IFS published last June. 

That’s a long list and there’s more. To top it all we are moving in the summer to 8 Salisbury Square. 

In the meantime sign up to our newsletter, come to our events, apply for our grants and fellowships, join our Q community... There’s a lot to do and plenty of talent to do it. Join us.

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