Community Services represent around £11 billion of NHS expenditure with approximately 100 million contacts taking place each year. Although Community Services play a key role in supporting service users at home and reducing unnecessary hospital admissions, available national data sources are currently limited. The Network’s Community Services project aims to fill this information gap, taking a view across all aspects of service provision including access, activity, workforce, finance and quality metrics. The project provides a detailed view of 26 different community services.
73 community service providers participated in the project this year and registered 102 submissions. Participation covered all regions of England and, for the first time, all University Health Boards in Wales took part. Participants can view their position on over 1,000 benchmarked metrics via an online tool accessible through the Network website members’ area. In addition to the toolkit, members can access a summary report online and participants will also received a bespoke report for their organisation.
Highlights from the 2015/16 audit
- Community Services represent a key component of the new models of care envisaged in the Five Year Forward View. The document anticipates that out of hospital care will reduce unnecessary use of acute hospital services, ensuring that patients receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time. Despite the clear direction of travel set out by NHS England in the Five Year Forward view, and subsequent guidance, the benchmarking suggests no discernible increase in investment in Community Services in the last four years. This finding highlights the difficulty faced by commissioners in attempting to shift resources from secondary care to other sectors, including community services, primary care and mental health, given current payment and contracting mechanisms and levers in the NHS.
- Community Services are showing an increased level of demand (measured by referrals per 100,000 population), a reduction in resources (investment and staffing levels) and increased waiting times.
- There is increasing interest in the Community Integrated Care Teams section of the project this year as more areas move towards locality based, integrated teams. Further work on the data specification for this section will be undertaken by the Community Reference Group ahead of the 2017 iteration of the project to capture recent developments in this area.
- Outcome measures are crucial in demonstrating the effectiveness of Community Services and enabling the sector to compete for scarce resources with other parts of the NHS. The project has included four new quality indicators this year, taken from the ‘Demonstrating the Value of Community Services’ initiative to assist the sector in moving this agenda forward.
The Network’s Steering Group has confirmed that the Community Services project will feature in the Network’s 2017/18 work programme. This project will collect 2016/17 data. The Community Reference Group will review the data specifications in preparation for the 2017 project.
The Network will also be taking over the production of the Enhanced Monthly Community Indicator reporting from the November reporting cycle. This is a monthly Community data collection, producing timely feedback for participants. Outputs include a monthly toolkit with the ability to generate a pdf report.
For more information on this work please contact:
0161 266 1333