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16.06.16

STPs ‘very simply’ about reducing hospital bed days, says Hunt

The arguably momentous sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) are “very simply” about reducing hospital bed days, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said at the NHS Confederation annual conference today.

Following his keynote speech, Hunt said in a Q&A session that transformation is very important and the 44 footprints that Simon Stevens is putting in place “are going to be very important to do this”.

In an answer to a question from the floor, he said: “I would say, though, that there is a way we can get this wrong and a way we can get this right.

“The way we get this wrong is if people use their STP plans in a time-honoured NHS way to bid for extra pots of money and then they go on and do what they want to do anyway having put together the business plan, and ticked everyone’s boxes.

“The STPs are very simply about reducing hospital bed days per thousand population and reducing emergency admissions. I think the successful STPs will be the ones that have rigorous data in place that track whether or not the many initiatives they are doing is reducing hospital bed days.”

He added that of the NHS’s £22bn efficiency savings, £4bn of that is around demand reduction. “That is what we need the STPs to do,” said Hunt. “That rigorous use of data is going to be essential.”

During his speech, the health secretary highlighted areas of achievement in improving access to cancer services and improving access to talking therapies for mental health patients.

However, he added that much more needs to be done to improve patient care. Hunt also stated that there are two areas where the NHS can make improvements in staff engagement.

“One is that we are still getting far too many stories about bullying in the NHS,” he said. “We still don’t have, across the board, a culture where people feel comfortable about talking about mistakes. We will never become the world’s largest learning organisation, which is my aspiration, unless we make it easier for people to speak out.

“Second change, which is a result of the junior doctors’ strike – many of the frustrations among the junior doctors’ workforce aren’t around the contract but around the inflexibilities in their training and inflexibilities in their rostering.” 

E-rostering

He added that he wants to set a challenge in the NHS: “When you look at the most modern e-rostering systems that airlines, like British Airways, use, they make it really easy for people to bid for hours that are convenient for them to work longer hours in term time, and shorter hours in the school day.

“They make it easy for their staff. It isn’t just good for staff; it is good for patients, because you have better motivated staff. It is also good for our balance sheets because if our rostering systems are inflexible then, of course, people want to become locums or work for agencies that can offer flexibility.

“You all have e-rostering systems, but the truth is that many aren’t using them. Indeed, some people are doing the rostering on paper and simply recording them on an e-rostering system. That is not how the system should work.”

(Top image c. Neil Hall and PA Wire)

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