As Jennifer Dixon outlines in her blog looking ahead to our plans for 2022, this year will be a challenging one for the UK’s health and health services. And it is likely this will remain true over the coming years. The pandemic continues to impact on our lives as individuals in different, and sometimes profound and difficult ways. It also continues to impact at a societal level, influencing the wider social, economic and political trends happening around us.

What the long-term picture for the UK’s health and health services looks like remains to be seen. The future is uncertain, but it will be impacted by the things that we do now. The turbulence of the last couple of years means it is more important than ever that the decisions made by those in positions to make a difference are informed by evidence, insight and information about what will be most effective.

The heart of the Health Foundation’s mission is to support those working in national and local government, and the health and care system, to create evidence-informed policy and approaches to improving health and care. This year we will be developing a new strategic plan for the Foundation for 2023-25. This will guide what we do as a foundation and set our broad direction of travel for the next few years.

Our strategy refresh will offer us the opportunity to step back and look at how we can have the biggest impact on our mission by building on our existing strategy and work programmes (see our existing strategic plan). As Jennifer mentions in her blog, it’s important that as a foundation we scrutinise our contribution hard. And in this spirit, we will be challenging ourselves throughout the process, and seeking the perspectives of others, to ground what we do in an informed understanding of where we might add most value. We will also draw on what we have learned over the last three years about how to support national policy and front-line change.  

Over the course of the next strategic plan, we will continue our work across the three broad areas of improving health and reducing inequalities, faster improvement in care, and better policymaking. In addition to our long-term work and initiatives in these areas, we will identify new ideas for grant programmes, fellowships, research, partnerships and advocacy activity to maximise our impact. We will also explore how we can build new approaches to making change happen, such as leveraging our power as an investor to influence business action on health.

As part of the refresh, we will also consider key strategic questions such as how we ensure the relevance of our work across the UK. And the balance of our contribution on issues relating to the health and social care system, alongside our work on health more broadly.

Another consideration will be how we make a difference over the short, medium and long term, making the most of our unique ability as an independent, endowed foundation to influence long-term, system-wide change. We will explore newer areas for us, such as health and environmental sustainability, building on our Shaping Health Futures programme

We will also continue to improve how the Foundation supports diversity, equity and inclusion both through our mission and through how we develop our organisation. We want our work to improve equity in access and experience of care and to create more equitable health outcomes. We will also consider the implications on health equity and diversity in the decisions we make about what we fund and do.  

To do this well, we’ll continue to enrich and inform our work by consulting and collaborating with citizens and local communities, as well as people with lived experience. As a foundation we want to ensure diverse voice and challenge informs our thinking. This will maximise the opportunity the strategy refresh presents to increase our impact over the coming years. We will do this in a number of ways, from talking to those we work with and fund, commissioning independent perceptions research, and through seeking the views of patients and the public through the Foundation’s inclusion panel. If you would like to know more, or get involved, please get in touch at strategyteam@health.org.uk

Cathy Irving (@CathyIrvingTHF) is Director of Communications at the Health Foundation.

This content originally featured in our email newsletter, which explores perspectives and expert opinion on a different health or health care topic each month.

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