IFF’s stakeholder perception audit report published by the Nursing and Midwifery Council

The report draws together the views of some of the NMC’s most senior partners – including chief nursing officers, government policy makers, trade union representatives and leaders of organisations representing public and patients – and will inform the 2020 – 2025 strategy of the organisation.

Most stakeholders felt that the NMC is on the right trajectory, having been making gradual improvements since c.2012 and being well placed to continue with positive change. However, it was felt that positive initiatives and changes are not fully embedded throughout the NMC and that more work needs to be done.

Andrea Sutcliffe, the new Chief Executive of the NMC, summarised the key take-outs as follows in her recent blog:

  • Partners believe we need to continue focusing on being more transparent and open, as well as being more proactive in explaining our priorities.
  • Communication must improve with all of those we come into contact with.
  • A strong message that the four countries dimension of our work needs to be a clear and unambiguous priority for us.
  • There was also a sense that we could do more with the role we have and the information we hold to influence the health and social care world and support nurses and midwives to deliver better, safer care.

To find out more, click here for the full report.

IFF’s report on Corporate Strategy and Stakeholder Research published by the General Medical Council

The GMC has published research from patients, healthcare bodies and doctors which will be used as a baseline to measure the impact of its corporate strategy. It shows that confidence in the profession and in regulation among patients and the public remains high: 88% of patients and the public are confident in doctors, and 84% are confident in the way doctors are regulated. However, three in four doctors lost some confidence in the GMC over the last 12 months, in the wake of the Jack Adcock/ Dr Bawa-Garba case.

Over nine in ten stakeholders felt that their overall working relationship with the GMC was good, but there is scope to improve this further by listening and communicating direction of travel more effectively.

The data will help inform progress against a number of the aims underpinning the GMC’s corporate strategy, including:

  • Supporting doctors in delivering good medical practice for patients
  • Strengthening collaboration with regulatory partners
  • Strengthening relationships with the public and profession

The research was undertaken in August and September 2018, and heard the views of more than 3,300 doctors, 2,000 members of the public and 50 stakeholders through online and telephone surveys.

Paul Buckley, Director of Strategy and Policy for the GMC, highlighted the importance of the research to the organisation, saying “It’s vital that we listen to the profession in order to improve their working lives and patient safety”.

Click here for the full report

A healthy future for healthcare research

IFF’s innovative healthcare offering sees recognition and expertise is in high demand.

Last week IFF’s Health and Wellbeing team were nominated for the MRS Healthcare Research Award for work conducted as part of a dementia pilot project for the Department of Business Innovation and Skill (BIS) in partnership with Loughborough University – Click here for details.

This nomination rounds off a brilliant year for the development of our healthcare offering and highlights how our Health and Wellbeing team are breaking new ground in their approach to the kind of projects we love to work on, those that make a real difference to peoples lives.


Healthcare research continues to be area of great importance for the public sector and shows no signs of waning as questions remain over government health care policies and efficiency in the NHS.

Our Health and Wellbeing package has grown in recent years and been given a renewed focus. We have added experience to our ranks and developed a greater understanding of the unique benefits we offer such as our ability to access many hard to reach audiences and offer flexibility in our service.


Our new look healthcare team are by no means inexperienced and their expertise has been in high demand as of late. Healthcare research directors Mark Speed and Matt Barnes have been busy presenting research into attitudes to the NHS complaints handling process at conferences around the UK and will be sharing their findings at next weeks ‘NHS Patient Complaints: Improving Your Response to Support Patients & Staff Conference’ next week.

See the full presentation here: slideshare.com

For more information on our Health and Wellbeing team visit our sector page here. To speak to a healthcare expert Call: 02 07250 3035 or Email: healthandwellbeing@iffresearch.com

Bridging the gap between mental and physical healthcare

Government invests almost a billion pounds in funding aimed at putting mental health in the UK on equal footing with physical health.

The announcement in January by David Cameron of just under a billion pounds pledged to mental health, marks the first time a Prime Minister has made mental health the main theme of a speech, and that should be regarded as a milestone for mental health.

The funding for this ‘mental health revolution’ will be focused on:

• £290 million to be spent by 2020 helping 30,000 more new and expectant mothers with mental health issues.
• Services expanded to ensure teenagers with eating disorders get faster treatment, and a new waiting measure to track the amount of time before patients are seen.
• £250 million over the next five years to embed mental health services in every hospital emergency department.
• A £400 million investment in crisis resolution and home treatment teams to operate 24 hours a day as an alternative to hospitals.
• A new waiting time target, meaning at least half of those experiencing psychosis for the first time must be treated within two weeks.

The importance of mental health is becoming increasingly recognized, with recent statistics showing that this year alone, one in four people in London, will develop a problem such as anxiety or depression and suicide is presently the leading cause of death for men under 50. Cameron’s pledged funding is a positive step but it remains to be seen as to whether this will be enough to address the core issues around mental health. Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, the mental health charity released a statement in support of the funding, saying:

“The Prime Minister rightly recognises some key priorities that have been identified by the mental health task-force, which will soon be publishing its full report. Children and young people, pregnant women and new mums, and those in crisis urgently need better services and support.”

The other key focus of Cameron’s speech was the importance of creating an open dialogue in the UK about mental health and reducing stigma. In his keynote speech, the prime minister said:

“Mental illness isn’t contagious. There’s nothing to be frightened of. As a country, we need to be far more mature about this. Less hushed tones, less whispering; more frank and open discussion. We need to take away that shame, that embarrassment.. I want us to be able to say to anyone who is struggling, ‘talk to someone, ask your doctor for help and we will always be there to support you.”

If this announcement has any implications for your organisation IFF can help you plan for the future through bespoke research. Contact our Health and Wellbeing team today using the details below:

Call: 020 7250 3035

Email: info@iffresearch.com

How can insurers convince businesses to offer Private Medical Insurance as a benefit?

IFF’s exclusive research sheds light on the opportunities for providers.

For a long time now Private Medical Insurers have been wondering what they have to do to appeal to the business market. A major obstacle for providers has been communication and knowing what can be done to convince business owners of the benefits to taking up private medical insurance schemes for their employees.

Of the 500 businesses we spoke to as part of our latest Business Omnibus 88% of do not provide PMI for their employees, a statistic that is somewhat surprising if you consider the increasing pressures being put on NHS resources. With waiting list’s getting longer most employees would surely welcome the introduction of this type of benefit but there seems to be a stigma around the value of these schemes from an employer perspective and doubts around the level of uptake that would be seen from employees if PMI was to be offered.

What do businesses want from PMI providers?

Our findings have shed some light on the reason for this viewpoint as well as looking at what might convince employers to start offering PMI as a benefit in the future. Of those businesses not offering PMI 1 in 5 said they would consider doing so if the provider specialised in working with companies of their size. Small and micro sized businesses (those with 1-9 and 10-49 employees respectively) made up the majority of those calling for this change suggesting a tailored approach to SME’s could see them increase their uptake.

The research carried out also shows that better communication, greater transparency and top quality customer service would convince those not offering PMI to employees to do so. Customer service was most important to large businesses (those with over 250 employees) with 20% of those not offering PMI consider top quality customer service a factor that would convince them to offer this benefit.

A clearer explanation of the benefits to offering medical insurance was identified as a key factor suggesting more needs to done to communicate directly with businesses and educate them around how PMI works and its importance.

If you are a Private Medical Insurer looking to appeal to the business market carrying out bespoke research will give you an understanding of what matters most to this market. To contact a member of our Health and Wellbeing team use the details below:

Call: 020 7250 3035

Email: info@iffresearch.com

A healthy future for healthcare research

Last week, IFF’s Health and Wellbeing team were nominated for the MRS Healthcare Research Award for work conducted as part of a dementia pilot project for the Department of Health (DH) in partnership with Loughborough University – Click here for details.

This nomination rounds off a busy year for our healthcare sector and highlights how we are breaking new ground in our approach to the kind of projects we love to work on, those that make a real difference to peoples’ lives.

Healthcare growth in difficult times

Healthcare research – with patients, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders – continues to be an area of great importance and shows no signs of waning as questions remain over government health care policies and efficiency in the NHS.

Our Health and Wellbeing sector has grown in recent years and been given a renewed focus. We have added experience to our ranks and built upon our core strengths such as our ability to access many hard to reach audiences and offer flexibility in our service.

Healthcare expertise

Mark Speed, Joint Managing Director at IFF, and Matt Barnes, Associate Director at IFF, have been busy presenting research into attitudes to the NHS complaints handling process at conferences around the UK and will be sharing their findings at next week’s ‘NHS Patient Complaints: Improving Your Response to Support Patients & Staff Conference’.

For more information on our Health and Wellbeing team visit our sector page here.

Speak to a healthcare expert: Call: 02 07250 3035 or Email: healthandwellbeing@iffresearch.com

The NHS in 2015: Thoughts from the Health and Care Innovation Expo

There were mixed feelings at this year’s Health and Care Expo, held in Manchester last week. As ever in the public sector now, austerity loomed large. There is no point in denying that money is an issue, argued several speakers – including Sir Bruce Keogh, National Medical Director of NHS England. The first requirement is to have a better understanding of what things actually cost – it is not always clear that this is the case – but this does not mean that quality should be the servant of money. There was a determination across the board to be positive in the face of austerity challenges. The theme of the conference was innovation, and a recurring theme was the assertion that tough times can be a catalyst in this respect.

How can innovation be implemented?

Innovation does not necessarily mean expensive new technology. One of the highlights was a session with Dr Devi Shetty – a renowned cardiac surgeon who has worked in numerous countries – who told the conference that we should look outside the UK for ideas. The BRIC countries in particular, have long been setting up healthcare systems on a tight budget. This was echoed in a session with members of the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA), who shared a few examples of simple ideas which have had a positive impact. Again, the message was that, for an idea to have traction in the NHS today, it will need to be cost neutral in the short to medium term.

Localism vs Standardisation

The other key theme – more subtle, but running throughout – is the old debate about localism vs standardisation. The public and political discourse over this continues to be confused. Do we want services tailored to meet local needs? Yes. But is it acceptable for the quality of service you receive to vary depending on where you live? No. The prevailing view seems to be that increasing standardisation is inevitable in the current climate.

So what is the role of insight in an increasingly tough financial environment? The message from senior NHS figures was clear. As Sir Bruce Keogh said, “in the commercial sector, when times get tough you ask your customers what they want”. This was echoed by Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation Rob Webster, who told delegates that, when money is tight, it is doubly important to have evidence of impact.

IFF anticipates this to be a major theme and challenge for health researchers over the next five years and one we are going to keep abreast of over time with ongoing reviews of evidence in an austerity climate!

How does the July Budget affect the research industry?

There have been plenty of talking points around this year’s budget. Now that the dust has settled we have decided to look a bit closer to home and think about how all of this will impact the research industry.



The recent budget contained a number of measures which will potentially have a major impact on the future of school leavers in the UK over the coming years. Of these the most significant of these is the introduction of a new Apprenticeship levy for large employers.

The aim of the Apprenticeship levy (not perhaps the natural step for a Conservative party with a predilection for free market solutions) is to fund increases in apprenticeship numbers and quality (e.g. the pledge to create 3m new apprenticeships in the course of this parliament).

Although the nature of the levy is not yet clear (who will pay it and how much) from a research perspective the key questions appear to be:

1. Will the levy generate the required increase in apprentices, while also maintaining quality?

2. How will this vary across different sectors and at different apprenticeship levels?

3. What is the employer view on this?

  • Which employers will benefit from these changes?
  • What affect does the levy have on employer non-apprenticeship training activity, and hence their overall investment in training?

Having conducted extensive research on support for the training levy in the construction sector, on employer views on Apprenticeships and on employer investment in training, we look forward with interest on the government’s research programme in this area.

Student maintenance grants:

The replacement of the Student maintenance grant by loans is another stand out consideration in the education space and will undoubtedly have an impact on those considering the option of University. Currently, students from families with annual incomes of £25,000 or less get the full grant of just under £3,400 a year; more than half a million students in England receive the grant costing taxpayers more than £1.5bn annually. The government hopes scrapping the grant will reverse under-funding of universities, and stops the basic unfairness of taxpayers funding grants for people likely to earn above average salaries. Critics focus on social injustice and the fact that scrapping the grant will make university unaffordable and unappealing for those from the poorest backgrounds.

On this basis the overriding question for research must be what impact does the introduction of the loan have on student numbers, particularly on (planned) applications from low and middle income families?


Our recent blog challenging the stereotype of the benefit claimant discussed how the government may look to achieve its cuts of £12bn to welfare payments by 2018-19 – read our blog on here. This budget gives us a first look at how the government aims to approach these cuts. The flagship announcement regarding benefits from this year’s budget has been the new national living wage. This will see a reduction in the benefits provided to low paid workers but in turn businesses will be obliged to pay them a higher wage.

From a research perspective it will be interesting to consider what impact this will have on employment and the way in which employers recruit. It raises some interesting questions:

1. Will we see more under 25’s recruited as employers look to avoid paying the £7.20 living wage in favour of the standard £6.50 minimum wage?

2. Will we find employers recruiting individuals to work restricted hours – for instance, in retail or services, recruiting to cover narrower windows of ‘peak demand’?

3. Will it apply a ‘chilling’ effect to further recruitment, making employers consider more carefully whether to take on further staff?

A more difficult question to answer is whether the national living wage – like the national minimum wage before it – acted as a ‘default position’ that led some employers to pay less than they might otherwise have done –thus ‘flattening out’ wages paid, rather than acting as a ‘safety net’ at the bottom of the wage scale.


There have been a number of changes to taxation in this budget with adjustments being made to personal tax thresholds and a reduction to the rate of corporation tax.

Researchers will play a key role following:

1. The impact of the proposed rise in Personal Allowance

2. The Inheritance Tax threshold for individuals

3. The reduction of Corporation Tax and changes to the Annual Investment Allowance for businesses (the August round of our Business Omnibus will be assessing the reaction to the budget across businesses of all sizes and sectors to see what kind of impact these changes have had).

Insurance Premium Tax:

As part of this budget the chancellor also announced that Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) will rise from 6% to 9.5% from November of this year. It is very likely that the IPT change will not be picked up by the majority of people even though it will have a significant impact. To put it in perspective, from November over 20 million households that hold contents / buildings insurance or motor insurance will see their premiums increase (it is estimated typical car insurance will increase by between £12 and £15).

Premium increases are likely to become another barrier for insurance providers to overcome as they look to engage with an already frustrated client base. See our blog on recent insurance innovations.


The words ‘challenging ‘ and ‘impossible’ have been bandied around with the conflicting demands of £22 billion in NHS efficiency savings by 2020/21 while also working to achieve a 7 day a week service in the same period. While there is certainly no ‘silver bullet’ with finance directors talking of general efficiency savings (without discussing specifics), procurement savings and ‘supporting staff to work in different ways’ (isn’t this falling under the efficiency savings heading?), all external suppliers are going to have to work within this austere context.

Only time will tell how deep and far these cuts will go, however what is clear is that ‘efficiency’ is going to be a key word for all suppliers to the NHS and other public sector health organisations, especially in terms of the service sector suppliers such as research.

In conclusion…

All research suppliers are going to have to think smarter in their research solutions and demonstrate this during the procurement process over the coming months. There are a lot of conflicting demands on limited budgets and research suppliers will need to actively demonstrate that the results of a project will enable efficiency savings as well as insight.

IFF Conference Review: Innovation and insurance

The UK Financial Services Experience Awards

Wednesday 8 July saw the inaugural UK Financial Services Experience Awards ceremony take place in London. Financial Service providers from across the industry battled it out to show the judges how they were seeking to improve experience for their customers.

It was a fantastically hosted event and judging at these awards really showed me how, as a sector often treated with suspicion (and quite rightly in some instances) the Financial Service industry is really looking to put customers’ experience back at the heart of what they do.

This is not an easy task, particularly for insurance providers where trust is low and engagement with providers is often seen to be a ‘necessary evil’.  Having had the opportunity to judge five papers in the insurance category – it was clear to see how technological innovation is really changing the way in which insurance is sold and delivered to consumers. Advances in technology now mean customers can expect to see pop up web-chat when at the point of purchasing online and some providers are even beginning to offer customers the option of streaming video of damage directly to their claims adjusters.

What I found most interesting is that the eventual winner of the category – Direct Line Group in partnership with True & Good – demonstrated that real innovation does not always have to be technological in nature. They deservedly won the insurance award for their fresh approach using simpler language which was more in keeping with their brand. In turn, this improved customer experience and is also likely to lead to better outcomes for customers.

All forms of innovation designed to improve customer experience within the insurance industry (and more widely within the Financial Services sector) should be welcomed. Having witnessed the rate of change first hand, over the next few years I would expect that the ‘benchmark’ of what counts as a good customer experience from an insurance provider to be raised much higher.

For more information on how IFF help clients in the Financial Services space CLICK HERE 

Improving care for dementia sufferers

IFF and Loughborough University evaluate dementia pilot scheme

Dementia is a memory loss condition affecting about 800,000 people throughout the UK and is predicted to be one of the major global health concerns over the next few decades. A huge amount of work is being done to raise awareness around this condition given the ageing population both in the UK and world-wide.

IFF Research worked in partnership with Loughborough University in 2013/14 to evaluate a pilot scheme on the build environment for the improvement of care for those suffering from dementia in the UK. This project involved a network of 116 NHS and social care national pilot schemes with the aim of improving the quality of life for these people by offering new and innovative care environments.

The goal of the research was to share best practice with this network and evaluate the significant investment from the Department of Health (DH).

DH required financial and efficacy progress reporting for each pilot project, as well as a central website for the sharing of good practice.

The IFF and Loughborough project teams complemented each other well to devise what we believe was a cost effective monitoring and information sharing solution that could be applied to other multi-site pilot evaluations.

IFF’s Role:                                                                                          

IFF used a range of methodologies in its evaluation of the pilot scheme, including:

  • Monthly and quarterly data collection: IFF set up a bespoke online portal for the 116 pilot schemes to provide quantitative monitoring data securely on a monthly and quarterly basis. The aim was to ensure it was as easy as possible for each pilot scheme to submit the required information accurately.
  • Website development and management: IFF also set up an “Improving the Environment of Care for People with Dementia” website to act as a platform for pilots to be updated with useful and relevant information and share good practice experiences. This site allowed users to access information, documents and resources such as PowerPoint slides and presentation recordings.
  • Helpline: In addition to the website, IFF set up a helpline and contact centre, enabling pilot teams to communicate problems and ask questions via email or a Freephone line at any stage during this project. This enabled us to engage more closely with the pilots and ensure the data were collected in a timely and accurate fashion.

Loughborough Universities Role:

Loughborough University’s role in this project involved:

  • Events: Four workshops were hosted by the Loughborough team as part of the data collection process. The aim was to provide evidence and recommendations to support future best practice guidance. The workshops covered the pilot project data collection process, the built environment, supportive technology and integrated care delivery.
  • Case studies: In addition, 30 Detailed Case Studies (DCS’s) were conducted by Loughborough University. These were qualitative in nature and aimed to provide a 360 degree view of how the pilot was being implemented ‘on the ground’.
  • Webinars: Over the course of the project 4 webinars with the pilots, led by Loughborough University, were conducted; again sharing best practice and providing updates on progress.
  • Reporting: The information and outcomes of the workshops and DCS’s were disseminated via the programme website to the other Pilot Projects. Towards the end of the programme Loughborough produced an overarching report which has since been published. See here


The work conducted through the collaboration between IFF Research and Loughborough University ensured that the dementia pilot scheme justified the investment of £50 million from DH. This evaluation was a great success and we are proud to have been part of a project that has made a difference to the lives of those facing dementia in the UK.

We were also very happy with how seamless the working relationship was between ourselves and Loughborough University, using a variety of techniques and channels to inform our findings.