latest health care news


Just 16% of finance directors think sustainable STPs achievable by 2021

NHS finance directors fear the quality of services will get worse and sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) will not succeed in their goals of delivering sustainable integrated care, according to a new survey.

The latest NHS Financial Temperature Check survey of more than 200 finance directors from the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) shows that just 16% were ‘very or quite confident’ that their organisation could deliver a sustainable STP for the period up to March 2021.

STPs, which trusts were due to complete by 30 June, have faced setbacks recently, with NHS England papers saying that they lack the “degree of scale and pace” required to deliver changes, and minister George Freeman admitting that they have no legal basis.

An investigation by NHE’s sister title PSE also revealed that health devolution could be better for delivering integrated care than STPs.

Furthermore, only 35% of respondents said that the relationships between organisations in their STP footprint were strong enough to deliver the changes required.

Speaking at the Health+Care conference last week, Stephen Dorrell, the chair of NHS Confederation, said that local government involvement in STPs was vital to reduce the risk of the STP “talking to itself”.

Fears about impact of financial problems on services

Among the respondents, 28% said they had ended the year in a worse financial position than expected and the 47% who had a better than expected performance attributed it to non-repeatable measures such as selling assets.

NHS trusts ended the last financial year with a £2.45bn deficit.

Paul Briddock, director of policy at HFMA, said: “The scale of the NHS deficit continues to reach unparalleled levels, and it is unlikely the provider position will be in balance at the end of 2016-17, as originally planned.

“Our report confirms that while finance directors are feeling the pressures of the current financial situation, many also feel like short-term gains such as cash injections and non-recurrent savings are merely storing up more problems for the future.”

Moreover, the report found that 21% of CCG finance directors and 23% of trust finance directors felt that quality of patient services would decline in 2016-17.

The most common areas the directors said were vulnerable were waiting times (76%), access to services (69%) and the range of services offered (61%). One third of trust directors also said they thought services would get worse in 2017-18.

In addition, 67% of CCG and 48% of trust directors reported a high degree of risk associated with their organisation’s 2016-17 financial plans.

The biggest risks to trusts achieving planned savings were identified as slippages in cost savings (78%), spending on agency staff (72%), the impact of social care financial constraints (56%) and increasing demand (52%). For CCGs, the biggest risks were increases in emergency care activity (76%), continuing healthcare (69%), increased demand for services (67%) and slippages in cost savings (65%).

Better leadership and accountability needed

Briddock added that fears about the impact of the “financial turmoil” following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union were “a real concern.”

He said: “To avoid this, there is a need for NHS organisations to work together to address these financial and operational pressures by the efficient redesign of services and to put an end to the shifting of financial problems between sectors. 

“Although many see the STPs being key to future sustainability, finance directors highlighted that better leadership and clearer lines of accountability to drive the implementation of plans, are needed."

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an NHE columnist? If so, click here.





There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


national health executive tv

more videos >

featured articles

View all News

last word

Foreign patient charges are a distraction from the real issues

Foreign patient charges are a distraction from the real issues

Vivek Kotecha, research officer at the Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI), explains why the charging of foreign patients distracts from our home-grown NHS issues.  The Depart more > more last word articles >

health service focus

View all News


A single approach for purchasing HCTEDs

11/04/2017A single approach for purchasing HCTEDs

Andy Leary, finance director of specialised commissioning (National) at NHS... more >
Filling the void and standardising security

07/04/2017Filling the void and standardising security

Jayne King, chair of the National Association for Healthcare Security (NAHS... more >


Tight timetable for nursing associate  regulation

28/03/2017Tight timetable for nursing associate regulation

Jackie Smith, chief executive at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), t... more >
681 149x260 NHE Subscribe button

the scalpel's daily blog

End of life care planning: why it should be everyone’s concern

10/05/2017End of life care planning: why it should be everyone’s concern

To mark Dying Matters Awareness Week (May 8-14), Michelle Brown, deputy head of department for healthcare practice at the University of Derby’s College of Health and Soc... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

healthcare events

events calendar


May 2017

mon tue wed thu fri sat sun
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31 1 2 3 4

editor's comment

22/03/2017New additions and unexpected announcements

As NHE went to press, many of us were still recovering from the chancellor’s unexpected health announcements in his last Spring Budget.   While the sector welcomed Philip Hammond’s revelations, centered on capital funding for advanced sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) and A&E triage schemes (page 24), the government failed to address the funding gap still facing the NHS.   Even the £2bn social care windfall, which Treasury has... read more >