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06.07.15

‘Support not threats’ needed over efficiency savings challenge – NHS Providers

The challenge to bring down the deficit of foundation trusts (FTs), which threatens to reach £1bn a year, should be met by supporting and empowering providers rather than “threatening or neutering them”. 

Last week, David Bennett, the chief executive of Monitor, said that FTs could lose some of their freedoms if they do not make the required efficiency savings

One of the problems he pointed out was that FTs in general had not used their freedoms to improve performance fast enough, and had been too slow to adopt best practice in efficiency. He said that Monitor will clamp down further on poor financial and operational performance, including rating all FTs on a sliding scale for the first time. 

Responding to this, Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said that he shares Monitor’s concern at the size of the financial challenge facing the NHS in 2015-16 and that, on the current trajectory, the NHS will be unable to stay within its budget. 

He added, though, that providers, commissioners, the Department of Health and the arms length bodies have a collective responsibility to ensure the NHS stays within its budget.

“Failure to do so risks weakening the case made to government in the Five Year Forward View on the need for an extra £8 billion by 2020.” 

Hopson said that plans have already been announced in areas such as reducing spending on agency staffing and management consultancy. 

“NHS England, Monitor and the TDA are reviewing 2015/16 business plans. These may well be insufficient to close the financial gap the NHS faces,” he said. “If so, as a system, tough choices will be needed as well as honesty and realism about the severity and speed with which action is needed.” 

He added that if the NHS budget cannot be increased, the sector needs to come together as a single system to work out what else can be changed, be it planned commissioner surpluses or contingencies, staff numbers, waiting lists/access to services or capital spend. 

NHS Providers and its members are already discussing what further contribution the provider sector could make here,” said Hopson. “Whatever is decided and however great the pressure, we need to resist the temptation to think that these issues are best addressed by reverting to command and control and eroding provider freedoms. The way to meet this challenge is to enable, support and empower providers, rather than threatening or neutering them.” 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Comments

Brianc   09/07/2015 at 12:08

Those of us providing services to the NHS can and will make savings on our services, but I agree whole heartedly that we need support and autonomy in order to make services leaner and meaner, whilst still providing an excellence in the care and individual attention given to those who desperately need our help and support to return to full health and ongoing productivity as members of society.

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