The vanguard programme, one of NHS England’s attempts to better meet patients’ needs and deliver savings by developing new care models to integrate health and social care services, has not delivered the depth and scale of transformed services it aimed for at the beginning of the programme, according to this report by the National Audit Office.
A key objective of the programme was to design new care models that could be quickly replicated across England. NHS England selected 50 sites to act as ‘vanguards’ which might entail, for example, joining up GP, hospital and community and mental health services in an integrated network or single organisation in one area to improve healthcare for patients.
NHS England’s early planning assumption was £2.2 billion of funding for new care models between 2016-17 and 2020-21, but it used much of the funding to reduce deficits faced by hospitals. Actual direct funding of vanguards was £329 million over three years from 2015-16, with another £60 million spent by NHS England on central support for vanguards. Consequently, with less funding for transformation, the original intention to expand the programme was not realised.
Despite not meeting its original intention to expand the models across the country, vanguards have made progress in developing new care models. NHS England forecasts that vanguards will make net savings. As at April 2018, it estimated that vanguards would secure £324 million net savings annually by 2020-21, which is 90% of the £360 million that had been expected.
Full report: Developing new care models through NHS vanguards
See also: National Audit Office press release