In an assessment of progress on NHS England’s Five Year Forward View, the think tank said that because much of the funding so far allocated to sustainability and transformation has been used to cover trust deficits, the NHS was being left without the money it needs to implement its plans.
The report said that the most progress made so far with the Five Year Forward View had been in the development of new care models, including GP-led multi-speciality community providers (MCPs) and primary and acute care systems (PACS), and with the Sustainability and Transformation Plans drawn up by 44 footprint areas across England.
However, the failure to properly invest in transformation had lead some new care model vanguards to scale back their plan, the report said. The risk was, it added, that new money and staffing alone will not relieve the pressure on the health and care service. Investment in transformation is needed, it said.
King’s Fund chief executive Chris Ham said: 'The future of the NHS depends on being able to implement the changes outlined in the Forward View.
‘New care models hold out the prospect of moderating rising levels of demand, including through better integration of health and social care and more investment in community services to provide alternatives to care in hospitals or care homes. These models are still under development, but the most advanced hold out real promise.
‘The challenge is that developing new care models requires investment, which is currently in short supply, as well as time. National leaders should hold their nerve, continue to support innovations now well under way, and work to remove legislative and policy barriers to progress.
‘By ring-fencing £1.8bn for the next two years to reduce deficits, national NHS bodies are effectively leaving the NHS without the investment needed to deliver the transformation of services set out in the Forward View.’
Responding to the report, NHS Confederation chief executive Stephen Dalton said: ‘This report shows long-term plans for improvement are being put on the back burner because of short-term funding issues arising from a health and care system which is stretched to breaking point.
‘We understand the need to ensure services have enough money today but the tactic adopted is to effectively raid resources which were meant to enable change and ensure we develop a 21st century NHS offer.
‘If we are to have a sustainable NHS and care system, the government needs to urgently invest in social care, halt planned cuts to public health, get serious about preventing ill health and kickstart an honest, open public conversation about what needs to change if the next generation is to carry on benefitting from the high quality health care we have today.’