Helping manage the new NHS reforms

  • New rules have been introduced to help local authorities deliver healthcare to their communities
  • We take a look at the top five considerations raised by this increased responsibility
  • Our new Public Health and Social Care guide provides further detail

Unprecedented reforms of the NHS mean that many public health functions are now becoming part of local authorities’ remit.

Under the auspices of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and Care Act 2014, local authorities are now responsible for the delivery of healthcare to their communities.

For local authority risk managers this means increased responsibilities around supply chain and contract management, safeguarding and clinical competence.

With the continuing challenges of dealing with an ageing population and the public sector being expected to deliver more for less, what is the long-term prognosis for local authorities?

Change in risk

Local authorities may be experienced in managing traditional risks, but those imposed by the new legislation are very different.

With the onus now on local authorities to commission health-related services and ensure they are delivered, local authorities will need to consider how this might affect potential liabilities.

And if a healthcare provider fails, a local authority will now be responsible for maintaining the continuity of the service affected.

But, how can these risks be managed effectively, and what meaningful action is required by local authorities? We look at the top five practical measures:

1. Contract management

More proactive contract management will be required. Contracts will need to outline objectives, with requirements based on national guidelines. It will be important, to have a formal system for dealing with complaints.

There will also need to be a means to provide readily available and competitively priced alternatives should a failure occur.

2. Supply chain resilience

The monitoring of healthcare supply chains will be especially important for local authorities as they become strategic commissioners of services. Understanding how third parties operate is vital in this new landscape.

By mapping out which providers are potentially at the highest risk, local authorities will be able to focus on areas that need most attention.

Supply chain failure can mean reputational damage, disruption to critical services and, in the worst cases, financial losses. With public sector supply chain expertise, we can help minimise the impact, helping protect local authorities should the supply chain fail.

3. Tendering process

Local authorities must be satisfied that any healthcare provider has robust resilience plans in place before any contract is signed. This means ensuring a copy of a provider’s business continuity plan is available, benchmarking these plans against other tenders and ensuring the provider considers the typical threats of the service being provided.

Having a strategic overview of the tendering process is essential, with any perceived cost advantages of using smaller healthcare providers needing to be offset against the potentially greater financial resilience of larger organisations.

4. Business continuity planning

Business continuity planning should become more joined-up with delivery partners, as a result of this increased outsourcing by local authorities. We can help you meet these challenges through business impact analysis, community response plans and the testing of potential interruption scenarios.

5. Medical monitoring

Local authorities could now incur medical negligence liabilities stemming from their medical service partners, which may not be covered by a local authority’s insurance policies.

It is imperative then that local authorities have a full insight into what their providers are doing and that healthcare staff are trained to understand the difference between facilitating and monitoring.

A helping hand

As a leading provider of risk and insurance solutions to Britain’s public sector, we can provide a robust health check for local authorities.

By offering effective guidance and potential strategies, we can help local authority risk managers deal with these new and evolving exposures brought about by the government’s public health and social care reforms.