Health Service Focus

12.10.16

No ‘easy fix’ to problems facing NHS finance, despite new planning guidance

Paul BriddockPaul Briddock, director of policy at the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), discusses the new two-year operational planning guidance.

Last month, NHS England announced its first two-year operational planning guidance, and set out strict new requirements for providers to meet the challenges facing the NHS in 2017-18 and 2018-19. HFMA members have been calling for longer-term funding settlements for years as well as more realistic efficiency requirements and an earlier timescale for agreement on financial plans for the year ahead. In that respect, the report is fully welcomed as a step forward in the right direction.

The operational planning guidance gives NHS finance staff more opportunity for long-term planning to be put in place. It also supports the need for the NHS to work more widely as a system but with clear visibility of organisational control totals. The themes outlined in the guidance such as two-year contracts, earlier planning and a move to a system focus are all key areas for HFMA and were recently outlined by the national planning workshops facilitated by ourselves and Future-Focused Finance.

We also support the decision made by NHS England to go against previous plans to move all follow-up outpatient activity to a single block payment. Finance staff and HFMA members expressed their concerns about this proposal as a ‘backwards step’, which would cause organisations to face further financial disadvantages. It’s encouraging, therefore, that NHS England has listened to the concerns voiced by NHS finance directors and introduced a new scheme that is set instead to increase the percentage of follow-up costs bundled into first attendances. It is essential to align the payment system with the aim of reducing follow-up attendances where possible whilst still reimbursing appropriate follow-up appointments. The revised approach makes this a much clearer aim.

However, although HFMA fully welcomes the operational planning guidance, it must be stressed that there is no ‘easy fix’ to the problems facing NHS finance. The current turmoil in the NHS has many financial obstacles to overcome and, in the short term, finance directors face many large-scale challenges. On that basis, a detailed plan of action is required, with input from commissioners and providers, to demonstrate how they deliver the recommendations in the new guidance, while also supporting the delivery of the local Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).

Most importantly, it is key for national bodies to work together in order to help both commissioners and providers achieve the necessary results.  There is more work to do and we look forward to seeing the full operational plans for both years from providers and commissioners when they are submitted at the end of December.  

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

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

Traffic light system could reduce hospital waiting times

24/04/2018Traffic light system could reduce hospital waiting times

A pilot system is making it easier for GPs to understand the hospital waiting times experienced by their patients. The e-traffic light system co... more >
Ambulance workers threatened with weapons and sexual violence

23/04/2018Ambulance workers threatened with weapons and sexual violence

Sexual assaults on ambulance workers have almost trebled in five years, a Freedom of Information (FoI) by union GMB has revealed. Since 2012 the... more >
RCN seeks views on three-year pay deal

23/04/2018RCN seeks views on three-year pay deal

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has opened its vote for its members to have their say on a three-year pay deal. If approved, the deal would s... more >

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 e... read more >

last word

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now bey... more > more last word articles >
681 149x260 NHE Subscribe button

the scalpel's daily blog

NHS long-term funding: what’s in store?

10/04/2018NHS long-term funding: what’s in store?

Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, discusses Theresa May’s recent announcements on long-term NHS funding and considers the options available. The prime minister’s appearance in front of the Liaison Committee of the House of Commons last month has caused quite a stir in the health world and no doubt a fair amount of angst in the Treasury. This is not the first time a prime ministe... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

Building a solid evidence base

18/04/2018Building a solid evidence base

Danielle Doyle of THIS Institute, co-created by the University of Cambridge and the Health Foundation, says the new organisation will dare to try... more >
Forensics v fraud

18/04/2018Forensics v fraud

Gareth Ballance, technical lead of the Forensic Computing Unit (FCU), gives a snapshot of a day in the life working for the NHS Counter Fraud Aut... more >
A personal view of NAPP’s future strategy

18/04/2018A personal view of NAPP’s future strategy

Dr Patricia Wilkie, president of the National Association for Patient Participation (N.A.P.P.), outlines her personal ambitions for the coming ye... more >
It’s all about quality data

18/04/2018It’s all about quality data

Steve Graham, eProcurement/Scan4Safety lead at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), and Gillian Fox, head of the eProcurement Program... more >
Setting the reform agenda

18/04/2018Setting the reform agenda

In 2017, the National Audit Office (NAO) said the government needs to take a stronger and more integrated approach to rein in the cost of clinica... more >

interviews

Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >
Cutting through the fake news

22/11/2017Cutting through the fake news

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ growing alongside a renewed focus on reducing stigma around mental health, Paul Farmer, chief exec... more >
Tackling infection prevention locally

04/10/2017Tackling infection prevention locally

Dr Emma Burnett, a lecturer and researcher in infection prevention at the University of Dundee’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and a boar... more >
Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

02/10/2017Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

NHE interviews Gillian Fox, head of eProcurement (Scan4Safety) programme at NHS Supply Chain. How has the Scan4Safety initiative evolved sin... more >
Simon Stevens: A hunger for innovation

25/09/2017Simon Stevens: A hunger for innovation

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, knows that the health service is already a world leader when it comes to medical advances – ... more >