latest health care news

12.10.18

DHSC pledges to break down the barriers to any idea that can help cut costs

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is open to each and every idea that could help reduce cost whilst keeping care as good as it is now or even better, its boss has promised.

Secretary of state Matt Hancock issued a clear call to arms for any provider who has a suggestion of how to deal with performance issues within the current pay packet of the NHS.

Speaking at the NHS Providers conference via video link, he admitted that better performance will rely on more money. In the immediate term, his recent social care cash injection earmarked for the winter period will help ensure the notoriously difficult season runs as smoothly as possible.

“It can’t be done without money,” he repeated. “But it also has to be done through reform. I am all ears for ideas that reduce cost whilst keeping care as good as it is, or even better.

“There are endless ideas still out there, even after several years of pressure, and if there are barriers to those being implemented that we can do anything about in the DHSC, then I want to know about it.”

With regards to winter specifically, Hancock yet again seemed to signal a break from his predecessor Jeremy Hunt – much like he has done away with Hunt’s usual Monday morning meetings.

“I want to take a slightly different approach to the approach that was taken to the balance between elective and non-elective care this winter,” he explained. “I want to plan in advance to ensure that there’s capacity for the inevitable spike in activity, and then if it isn’t as bad as last year – if the flu is less acute – then we’ll bring forward elective rather than putting it off.”

He also sang the praises of Pauline Philip, NHS England’s national urgent and emergency care director, who is leading on pre-winter planning in order to ensure the system runs better than it did last year – where hospitals nearly hit 100% capacity and many were put on the highest alert level.  

“I think Pauline has got a great grip on winter,” Hancock commented. “She’s absolutely brilliant at her job and I have a huge amount of faith in her day-to-day planning of trying to help the system as much as possible. But it’s really a team effort.”

In July, just a few days after the secretary of state took up the new job, NHS Confederation boss Niall Dickson said Hancock was being greeted with a “baptism of fire” as the sector headed towards another harsh winter.

 

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