Department of Health

Website of the Department of Health

Please note that this website has a UK government access keys system.

You are here:

The NHS Modernisation Agency

The NHS Modernisation Agency has been a catalyst for change and service improvement throughout the course of the board's second year. The agency's work has focused on the four main elements which are key to developing and delivering a truly patient-centred service.

To help speed up access to services for patients, the agency is assisting every part of the NHS to deliver national waiting and booking targets, introduce patient choice and improve emergency care service.

The agency is also working to increase support at a local level by supporting organisations and leaders in new roles, helping to join modernisation activity up at a local level, building networks and working towards the establishment of local modernisation support teams and networks in every community.

To enable equality of health care the agency provides rapid support to under-performing parts of the NHS and promotes leading edge practice for those wanting to accelerate improvements.

Finally it is creating a comprehensive library of good practice resources to give organisations practical help, spreading good practice and helping everyone share their knowledge and learning.

Service redesign is core to the work of the agency, and central to this is the development of systems and practices for patient and public involvement at every level. The overall aim is to improve patients' experience of the care they receive, as assessed by patients themselves.

Sustained change in health care practice depends in part on the commitment of individuals to do things differently. The belief of the Modernisation Agency of seeing things through patients' eyes is key every programme: putting patients at the heart of our work is central to everything we do.

Two pilot programmes are currently being supported and evaluated which provide customer care training to NHS staff, one in conjunction with NHS Estates and a programme which aims to prepare NHS staff for patient and public involvement.

Patient involvement is a key element to improving the patient experience, but changing the way that staff work is important as well. This involves creating a NHS modernisation movement that is so in tune with people's values and beliefs that they will naturally want to become actively involved with it.

The Research into Practice Programme studied the causes and extent of scepticism towards organisational change in the NHS in July 2001. It found that scepticism among key individuals, whether clinical, managerial or administrative, can affect the spread of new practices in the NHS. Techniques such as process mapping, which involves mapping the entire patient journey to find out what steps actually add value to the patient experience, have been highly effective in influencing sceptics to become supporters.

Leaders, from chief executives, through to clinicians and all those who manage people, are vital in engaging with and involving staff. The NHS Modernisation Agency's Agency Associates Scheme is on course to recruit up to 1,000 members by the end of March 2003 to become local ambassadors for service improvement. Associates are local people working to develop a mass movement for modernisation - one that ultimately reaches every part and person in the NHS.

Clinicians and managers play a key role in enabling change and improvements to services. This is clearly recognised in the NHS Modernisation Agency's work supporting and developing leaders at all levels in the NHS, and all health professions. By March 2003, the Agency's Leadership Centre will have provided dedicated leadership programmes for 1,150 doctors, 32,050 clinical grade nurses, 1,000 nurse leaders and all newly appointed chief executives. In addition, it will have fully developed leadership programmes for allied health professionals and health care scientists, and mental health and learning disability service providers.

  • To read about the NHS Modernisation Agency visit:

Dr Gill Morgan, chief executive of the NHS Confederation and NHS Modernisation Board member

What our members say

The NHS is at a crucial stage in its history. Looking to the next year the top management priority must be delivering tangible improvements in patient care. There will be a number of key challenges.

While the spotlight is often on short-term targets, the real challenge is to focus on longer term transformation. The NHS Confederation has established the Future Healthcare Network to help a group of leading-edge acute trusts and primary care trusts explore new models of care and their implications for the future workforce, the use of IT and the design of new hospitals and primary care premises. Better patient care can only be delivered if clinicians are fully involved in the improvement agenda. The confederation will be joining forces with the BMA, the royal colleges, the BMJ and HSJ to explore how the relationship between management and medicine can be improved.

Doing things differently involves a real culture change across the NHS. It requiresleaders with a clear vision for local services and new skills. The confederation will explore the changes needed to support leadership and management excellence. Changing the relationships between the centre, the service and local communities will be crucial for transformation. The confederation welcomes the innovation and local ownership that the Government wants to encourage through NHS Foundation Trusts. Representing the whole NHS family, we realise these benefits will only be seen if the whole system is able to meet this challenging agenda. We will be working to ensure there is a strengthening of PCTs so that they are able to be in the driving seat in delivering more integrated care for local communities. The shared desire across the NHS for more freedom and less monitoring and to set local priorities with local people together must be fostered.

As ever, we will need to encourage a more balanced public debate about the realities and achievements of the NHS, so that we have the time necessary for the transformation of services staff right across the NHS are working so hard to achieve.

Access keys