Body of evidence: 5 reports not to be missed

30 July 2019

By conducting and commissioning analysis, research and evaluations, we hope to influence health and care now and for the future. 

Publications are one of the key ways that we share the learning from our analysis, evaluation and research. And over the last year, our publications were downloaded or read online 176,914 times and have been used to inform both policy and local action. 

Here we highlight five reports from the last year, which showcase the breadth of our work.

1. The spread challenge

Published in September 2018, as leaders and policymakers were drawing up the Long Term Plan for the NHS in England, this report shines a light on the challenges facing the NHS in improving the uptake of new ideas and practices. The report draws on insights from our grant holders, highlighting the need for new approaches when developing national and local programmes to support the spread of innovation. 

The report makes a series of recommendations, including that innovators should be trained to describe innovations in ways that make it easier for others to adapt them for new contexts, and that there should be more opportunities for real-world testing of innovations and improvements in health care before trying to spread them. 

It has been downloaded or read online over 5,000 times, making it one of our most popular publications, widely influencing national policy and practice. It is also now being used to help support current grant holders to scale their improvement work. 

Read the report  

2. A recipe for action: using wider evidence for a healthier UK

With the government’s prevention paper quietly released this week, it seems timely to reflect on this collection of essays written by individuals from a diverse range of industries and specialisms, reflecting on the case study of child obesity. 

It is increasingly recognised that addressing the current challenges facing people’s long-term health outcomes in the UK isn’t simply a problem of research translation and access to existing evidence. It is a more fundamental problem: the evidence relevant to population-level action for long-term population health benefit, and the support to produce such evidence, is limited.

Current public health challenges need to be viewed as social, economic, political and cultural phenomena. And, therefore, require a wider set of disciplines to be used to both understand and address public health challenges, such as childhood obesity, effectively. 

Reaching beyond the traditional health disciplines also means that decision makers must learn to be comfortable making decisions in the absence of traditional biomedical ‘gold standard’ evidence. The essays explore how different disciplines and professional practices conceptualise evidence and how they reason about moving from evidence to taking action. And they illustrate how a broad range of disciplines and professional practices share similar goals – yet have quite different approaches to achieving them.

Read the essays

3. Unfinished business: an assessment of the national approach to improving cancer services in England, 1995-2015 

This publication from November 2018 looks back to the launch of the NHS Cancer Plan in 2000, which noted that England had poorer survival than in other European countries and promised that by 2010 ‘our 5-year survival rates for cancer will compare with the best in Europe’. 

The report pulls together official data on outcomes, as well as insights from nearly 70 interviews with senior managers, charity leaders, clinicians and researchers. It finds that progress has been made on reducing mortality, and improving the chances of survival and the experience of care, for people in England diagnosed with cancer. However, the gap in survival rates has not been closed.

It reflects on how cancer networks and collaboratives, data and national leadership had created a sense of momentum among the cancer community, and how disruptive Health and Social Care Act 2012 reforms were perceived to have been. It also highlights gaps, particularly the lack of progress in early diagnosis.

The report sets out recommendations to help bring about radical improvements in early diagnosis and detection of cancer, such as increasing investment in diagnostic equipment, building public understanding of cancer symptoms, improving resourcing of primary care, greater support for GPs to refer more patients and supporting collaboration across primary and secondary care. Alongside data from our analysis, these recommendations were echoed in the NHS Long Term Plan

Read the report 

4. Investing in the NHS long term plan

The NHS long term plan sets out an ambitious vision of improved care for patients. But is it job done? Local health and care systems now have the task of translating that vision into reality. Across England, sustainability and transformation partnerships and integrated care systems are currently preparing 5-year implementation plans setting out how they will deliver the plan in their local communities.

In this briefing, published in June 2019, we analyse the challenges now facing health and social care and look at the implications of the plan for activity levels and workforce in the NHS in England. 

The briefing sets out funding scenarios for areas of health spending outside NHS England’s budget (including NHS workforce, capital investment, the prevention agenda and adult social care) and examines the potential impact on wider public spending. The findings of the analysis are supported by a separate survey of NHS front-line leaders carried out by NHS Confederation.

Read the briefing 

5. Emergency admissions to hospital from care homes: how often and what for?

Reducing emergency admissions from care homes has the potential to reduce pressure on hospitals. This is a significant national policy focus, as demonstrated by a strong commitment to improve support in care homes in the NHS Long Term Plan

Published by the Improvement Analytics Unit (a partnership between NHS England and the Health Foundation), this report looks at the national picture of emergency admissions from care homes and brings together the learnings from the evaluation of four vanguard initiatives implemented in Rushcliffe, Sutton, Wakefield and Nottingham City, as part of the Enhanced Health in Care Homes framework. The analysis found encouraging results across three of the four sites evaluated, with some NHS initiatives being shown to reduce potentially avoidable admissions by over a quarter.

Read the briefing

Coming up…

In the second half of 2019, look out for publications exploring:

  • the NHS’s role as an anchor institution
  • implementation of health in all policies initiatives from around the world 
  • a whole-government approach to long-term investment in health
  • the opportunities and challenges of automation in health care
  • national and local approaches to measuring care quality in three clinical areas
  • key issues in social care.

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This content originally featured in our email newsletter, which explores perspectives and expert opinion on a different health or health care topic each month.

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