Getting started

First you must gather evidence to support your business case. Include relevant research and statistics from credible independent organisations, your own organisation, pilot schemes, and national and local information.

Five steps to a great business case

1. Make your business case relevant
Find out who will be making the decisions about your proposal, their main priorities and concerns – for instance, patient outcomes, service accessibility or health inequalities. Clinical Commissioning Groups in England, and local health boards and trusts in ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland, are looking to commission services that meet the needs of the local population, based on evidence.

Work on the assumption that whoever reads your business case will be completely unfamiliar with your service or project and will be seeking answers to relatively basic questions and key issues. It must be clear, well structured, readable and pitched in appropriate language.

2. Make a strong case
Good-quality evidence is essential for a strong business case, so you must request relevant data that will help support it.

Make sure that your business case fits with the strategic needs of the stakeholders and the wider NHS. For instance, our pilot programme to fund specialist nurses as arrhythmia care co-ordinators was a response to a 2005 extension to the National Service Framework for Coronary Heart Disease, setting out best practice for arrhythmia care.

Show clearly what you will need for the implementation and success of your proposed service or project. This could be more staff, training of existing staff, equipment or new premises. Give an estimated timescale for the project to be up and running and for it to accomplish its aims. You need to show that it’s practically achievable.

3. Be cost-effective
Funding organisations need to know that they will get a good return on their investment and that their funding will make an impact on patient care. Making better use of scarce NHS resources is always a priority. Give a clear breakdown of the costs involved and the amount of extra funding required, along with any estimated long-term savings, for instance as a result of fewer hospital admissions. Show how you’ve reached this conclusion.

4. Identify the key people to consult
Consider whom you will need to consult in order to make your case, starting with your line manager. You may also need to talk to other clinical departments, audit department analysts, HR, finance departments and commissioners.

5. Evaluate your programme effectively
What outcome measures will you be looking at and what evaluation method will you use? Evaluation takes time, so schedule this into your project development plan from the start. It will show prospective funding organisations that you have the appropriate process in place to be able to give good feedback on their investment.

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