latest health care news


PAC: NHS finances ‘perilous’ as orgs focus on short-term fire fighting over long-term transformation

The Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) lack of action to address the NHS’s finances is “disappointing,” according to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The committee’s report, ‘Sustainability and transformation in the NHS,’ claims that the NHS is still in “survival mode,” and says that despite a £1.8bn rescue fund, its financial position remains “perilous.”

It argues that the department and NHS England are too focused on short-term balancing of the books and “propping up the system” and that they have not paid enough attention to the long-term improvement and transformation of patient services.

Trusts are forecasting a deficit of over £900m in 2017-18, and the committee says that there is still a long way to go before the NHS is financially sustainable.

The committee has repeated its previous warnings of the dangers of using short-term measures to balance the NHS budget, and criticised the department for not yet assessing the impact on patients or services of “repeatedly raiding its capital budget” to fund its short-term needs.

Local health bodies are setting up integrated care systems, which the committee says offers the potential for more strategic and long-term planning, as well as better joined up services for patients, but it has expressed concerns that witnesses have been unable to explain how accountability within these systems will work in practice, or how they will improve the care received by patients.

Meg Hillier, MP and chair of the committee, said: “We have said it before and we will say it again: rescue packages and budget transfers are no substitute for a coherent, properly funded strategy that enables NHS trusts to plan, focus on patient care and lay the groundwork for long-term financial sustainability.”

She called for a long-term plan for the NHS by July, and said that a funding settlement from the Treasury, that properly reflects the current and anticipated demand for NHS services, will be key.

Hillier added: “It remains unclear how local partnerships, set up to develop strategy and help to transform services, will be held to account for their performance. This must be addressed.

“Government should also move more quickly to identify successes in its piloting of new care models and ensure best practice is shared for the benefit of patients across the country.”

When asked about the rumoured injection of £4bn a year for the NHS yesterday, Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said that there will need to be a real terms funding growth trend, but declined to give an exact figure.

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

The NHS needs more senior women in leadership

The NHS needs more senior women in leadership

The gender pay gap in the NHS remains a hotly debated topic, especially as the final report from the Gender Pay Gap in Medicine Review approaches. Andrea Hester, deputy director of employment relati more > more last word articles >

health service focus

View all News


Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
Nurses named as least-appreciated public sector workers

13/06/2019Nurses named as least-appreciated public sector workers

Nurses have been named as the most under-appreciated public sector professi... more >


NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

17/09/2019NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

Over 20 years ago, a Teesside hospital cleaner put down her mop and took st... more >

the scalpel's daily blog

An ageing population means hand care and injury prevention is more important than ever

23/08/2019An ageing population means hand care and injury prevention is more important than ever

Grey Giddins, member of the British Society for Surgery of the Hand, discusses how hand care and injury prevention have become increasingly important given the UK’s agei... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital exemplars who were revealed at the same show 12 months earlier.  Jeremy Hunt also stated that by the end of 2018 – the 70th birthday... read more >