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08.02.18

Getting it Right First Time programme must not be used as regulatory tool

Trusts across the country have argued for caution over the Getting it Right First Time (GIRFT) programme’s ambition to save £1.4bn a year by 2020-21.

A new report, ‘The Getting it Right First Time programme: early views from the provider sector,’ found that although NHS trusts support the programme, they warn that it is only the first step to tackling the problem of unwarranted variation.

GIRFT aims to improve clinical quality and efficiency within the NHS, using trust data and insight from frontline medics to discover differences in the way services are delivered.

The report, by NHS Providers, explores trusts’ perspectives on the GIRFT programme and sets out recommendations for trusts and NHS national bodies.

It urges NHS national bodies to set realistic savings targets and timescales, taking into account the wider pressures in the system, including financial and workforce difficulties, which may hamper efforts to reduce variation.

It also argues that the GIRFT programme should support trusts’ efforts to deliver productivity improvements, rather than being used as a regulatory tool to monitor the scale and pace of savings being delivered.

An acute trust’s finance director said: “GIRFT must not lose sight of the difficulties of local variation, and not become a stick with which to beat trusts.

“We have numerous challenges arising from disparate sites, recruitment challenges due to geography, and therefore we need to accept that changes will take time and might require structural and system wide solutions.”

According to the report, NHS trusts have already achieved £3.1bn of savings through cost improvement programmes in 2015-16, and the NHS is outperforming its historic productivity.

The document is based on telephone interviews with 11 senior clinical, operational and financial staff and written views from six trusts, and a roundtable of 25 trusts with NHS Improvement.

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