What is ‘sustainability’ and ‘Commissioning for Sustainable Development’?
“Sustainability” can be defined as meeting the needs of today without compromising the needs of tomorrow. Therefore, a sustainable organisation is one that often has the best chance of long term survival.
“Commissioning for Sustainable Development” is the process by which commissioners improve both the sustainability of an organisation, and the way it provides services and interacts with people in the community. It is about striking the right balance between the three key areas of financial, social and environmental sustainability when making commissioning decisions.
Commissioning for Sustainable Development:
- saves money
- saves resources
- benefits staff and patients
Why is sustainability a commissioning issue?
- Managing system risk: sustainability is essentially about excellence in business management. Commissioning organisations can and must take a whole systems approach to both delivery (ensuring integration of provider services) and managing future risks (for example, resource uncertainty or climate change);
- Managing demand: activity based commissioning will not incentivise managing demand for health services. We need to start thinking about incentivising and enabling a ‘health and well-being service’, focussed on an upstream preventative approach, as opposed to an ‘ill health service’ based on activity;
- Contractual Levers: commissioners hold the money, and therefore have the power to ensure that providers adopt sustainable business practices.
Delivering Sustainability in NNE
NNE successfully won a bid for funding specifically related to sustainability. We are using the funding to understand more about how we can deliver sustainability as a small organisation within a substantial system. The funding is being used to educate staff and Governing Body member, develop our sustainabililty plan and define our sphere of influence.
- The NHS Sustainable Delivery Unit can be found here