At a time when ‘innovation’ is being seen as the key to successful adjustment to lower spending on public services it is timely that the Innovations Unit and the Health Foundation have looked at the issue of scaling good ideas. Their report is built on reviewing 10 case studies and then drawing from these eight key enablers whilst being clear there is not fixed formula for success.
In essence the report suggests that for an innovation to be successfully scaled it requires substantial third-party endorsement in the form of creating specific vehicles for scaling, using policy and financial levers, gaining full support from commissioners and critically the use of external funding.
This looks like a tall order in terms of where public services are now and if the report is correct it suggests that only a very few innovations will actually get the support they require to scale and become embedded.
The report makes a very telling point in that much of the focus by government is on those agencies that create the innovation in the first place rather than those that manage to adopt and scale it. The health and social care sector has never been short of good ideas but achieving wider traction even for innovations with proven impact has been a challenge. This report provides some useful insights in how this situation might be improved.
In children’s services, the importance of support for young people’s mental health and wellbeing was emphasised in three reports this month. The Youth Index 2017 highlighted that 45 per cent of young people did not believe in themselves when they were at school; a UCL study found that 20 per cent of children and young people experienced emotional problems; and an LGA report highlighted that 40 per cent of young carers reported feeling sad in the past week. The challenge is not just the scale of the problem but also the multi-disciplinary, multi-sectoral aspect of effective services and support. This is made real in two other reports this month, i.e. NFER’s school funding report which shows that schools face significant cost-increases, especially connected to staffing; and Action for Children’s report showing nearly 1,000 children’s centres have not been inspected for over five years.