View from the independent healthcare sector

The Independent Healthcare Providers Network has launched its fourth annual Industry Barometer: State of the Sector report which provides insight into how leaders across the sector feel about their markets and their businesses. Despite the significant pressures facing the health service and the macro-economic backdrop, providers have increasing positivity in all its three markets – domestic self-pay, PMI, and NHS funded. This positivity has increased across the four years that IHPN has run the Barometer.

So, what are the biggest challenges facing the independent sector?

Workforce came out as being the greatest challenge and area of concern. While it is acknowledged that this is a challenge for the wider health and care system, the independent sector acknowledges the important role they can play with their commitment to training and developing the current workforce and the workforce of the future.

The sector is keen to play their part in delivering NHS funded care to reduce waiting lists in elective, diagnostic and community care. But the survey results suggest that the NHS is not fully utilising the capacity and capability of the sector. It will be interesting to see whether the Government’s commitment on the elective recovery taskforce will see greater usage of the sector.

It is of note that concerns about NHS policy towards independent providers have increased from last year’s survey from 40% to 65% which the report says reflects the difficulties respondents have had engaging with Integrated Care Systems over the past 12 months.

On matters of quality and safety, the survey asked IHPN members to look at the key opportunities and threats in their organisations. New opportunities for this year include initiatives such as the new Patient Safety Incident Response Framework and the promotion of an open and just culture. The data agenda continues to feature too.

As for challenges, “overwhelmingly”, members see that workforce recruitment is the biggest challenge, reflecting findings from previous years. Concerns around CQC’s reforms and the new Single Assessment Framework have increased, which reflects the uncertainty that providers are experiencing. The whole data agenda appears for the first time as a challenge.

On the net zero agenda, there is good news. Two years on from IHPN’s launch of its industry-wide net zero commitment, the survey reports a positive outlook on IHPN’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2035 and net zero supply chain by 2045 with 76% of providers confident or reasonably confident that their organisations will meet this target.

You can read IHPN’s report here.

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