An insider’s guide to our plans for 2018

30 January 2018


At the Health Foundation, we believe good health and health care are key to a flourishing society.

Through sharing what we learn, collaborating with others and building people’s skills and knowledge, we aim to make a difference and contribute to a healthier population.

Here’s a preview of some of the big things we’ll be working on over the coming year. You can also find out more about our grant and fellowship programmes in 2018.

Improving the public's health

Often known as the social determinants of health, the greatest influences on our health and wellbeing are the factors such as: our education and employment opportunities, our housing; our families, friends and communities; where we live and the extent it facilitates exercise, a good diet and social connections. Over the last couple of years, we have begun building our portfolio of work that contributes to enabling people in the UK to live a healthy life and in 2018 it will become increasingly visible.

The next generation

In 2018, we will be keeping a focus on the health of the next generation, through our inquiry into the prospects for the future wellbeing of today’s young people. Led by Julia Unwin, previously Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, this work will help to identify the many elements that affect young people today, and explore what they might mean for their health in 30 years’ time.  This is an important piece of work and we’ll be sharing our learning from the inquiry right through until it reports in mid-2019.

Bringing people together

Our work on healthy lives will become more visible in other ways this year, as we explore how we can change the conversation on the public’s health to generate more action. Our work to co-design a multi-stakeholder collaboration for wellbeing and health is central to this. This group will explore opportunities to work collectively to draw attention to and support action on the social determinants of health.

This year will see the first grants made by the UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP). We are a core funder of this new initiative in prevention research. The initiative will support multidisciplinary research teams to investigate the ‘upstream’ determinants of health, including: the built and natural environment; employment, education, welfare, transport, health and social care, and communication systems; and the policies of local and central government and of commercial enterprises.

Finally, watch out for the livestream of our X Factor for Evidence for the Public’s Health event on 6 February, which will challenge the consensus on what evidence can be used to make decisions about public health interventions. We’ll be bringing together experts from a range of disciplines including law, design, sociology, urban planning and food policy, to focus on resolving one of the most pressing public health challenges: childhood obesity. We will also be launching a series of essays on the topic later on in spring.

We will also continue our popular series of infographics and blogs about ‘what makes us healthy’  and launch a short guide exploring the social determinants of health.

Improving health care

Our work to support quality improvement at the front line of NHS care will continue at pace in 2018.   As the NHS enters its 70th year you’ll also see lots more of the commentary and rigorous analysis about health care quality, efficiency and finances that you’ve come to expect from us.

January sees the launch of The Healthcare Improvement Studies (THIS) Institute, which aims to strengthen the evidence-base for improving the quality and safety of health care. We’re delighted to be supporting THIS Institute, which is being led by the University of Cambridge.

The Q community (our joint initiative with NHS Improvement to connect and develop those leading improvement across the UK) continues to grow in strength and numbers. It now has over 2000 members, with applications opening again in the summer. 2018 will see the conclusion of the first Q Lab project, and the launch of a second project. The Lab is showing promise as a way for Q members and others to make progress on complex challenges in health and care.

The work of the Improvement Analytics Unit (which we run in partnership with NHS England) will be picking up pace this year, with plans to publish a number of analytical reports evaluating the impact of local NHS change programmes.

Spreading improvement

There’ll be a focus this year on ways to spread successful innovations and improvement approaches.  We will publish our own research into the challenges of spreading complex health care interventions, including an article in the journal Health Affairs, as well as a joint report by the Innovation Unit and Health Foundation on what it takes to scale innovation successfully in the NHS As part of our programme Exploring Social Franchising and Licensing, four organisations will develop a replication model to widen use of proven interventions to make care better. We hope to share rich insights into whether social franchising and licensing can be used to systematically and sustainably spread health and social care interventions.

Alongside our journal BMJ Quality and Safety, watch out for a new series on quality improvement launching in the BMJ in the spring, which will highlight successful approaches.

In 2018 we’ll also be tracking and sharing key trends in care quality, with accompanying analysis. In particular we’ll be looking at what impact nationally-led quality improvement programmes have had in three disease areas over the last two decades, starting with cancer. We will also continue our innovative data analytics, which uses existing NHS and social care data sets in novel ways to produce insights about the quality of care.

NHS and social care finances and workforce analysis

Throughout the year, we’ll continue our major work analysing NHS and social care finances and key workforce issues. The NHS Confederation has brought together the Health Foundation and Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) to conduct a comprehensive independent study into the funding needs of the UK’s health and care systems for the next 15 years. Another partnership project with The King’s Fund will look at some of the different options for funding social care.  

We’ll also be publishing our annual detailed analysis of NHS finances in the spring, which will include a focus on long-term capital investment. We plan to release a new report on NHS workforce issues towards the end of the year, and another on equity of access to pre-planned care, and our programmes of commissioned research into behavioural insights and efficiency research will provide insights and learning throughout the year.

Stay up to date and use our resources

For all the latest news and developments from the Health Foundation, including alerts about the latest funding and fellowship opportunities, you can:

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