Health needs assessment (HNA) is not a new idea. However, recent changes in the organisation of the NHS, particularly the separation of purchasers and providers and the advent of locality commissioning, has created a resurgence of interest.
For some time now commissioners have had specific responsibility for assessing the health needs of their populations, and purchasing services to meet these needs. The need to contain costs, target limited resources more effectively and make more extensive use of effectiveness information, has also drawn attention to the value of health needs assessment.
Individual needs assessment has always been part of the general practitioners role, but the growing involvement of GPs in commissioning health services, has encouraged many to think about health needs assessment at practice and community level.
Many practices and CCGs are already involved in needs assessment, although they have not labelled it as such. Others feel daunted by the jargon, the potential time commitment and fear of uncovering needs or raising expectations which they don’t have the time or resources to meet.
We hope that this resource will highlight the many benefits HNA can bring to General Practice and give GPs and CCGs the confidence they need to embark on their own HNA project.
Health needs assessment can mean different things according to who uses the term and when and where it is used. In this guide, we will particularly be considering the value of HNA in relation to:
The aim throughout all of these should be service improvement and improving patient experience.