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17.12.15

Trusts must comply with strict conditions to receive share of £1.8bn

Out of the £3.8bn frontloaded funding handed to the NHS as part of the government’s Spending Review, £1.8bn will be used to help trusts tackle their deficits and focus on transforming services.

But trusts will only qualify for this funding if they comply with a series of “strict and non-negotiable” conditions set out by NHS Improvement, NHS England and the Department of Health, as previously revealed by NHE.

First and foremost, this includes agreeing with NHS England and NHS Improvement a “strong and measurable” recovery plan that outlines how the provider will reduce deficits to break even within a “reasonable timeframe”, as well as a ‘control total’ for their 2016-17 budget.

Trusts must now proactively support Lord Carter’s savings plan by developing a roadmap and reporting regularly on progress towards achieving the £5bn of efficiency cuts.

They are expected to make further progress on reducing agency spend and analyse how much spend will fall, as well as regularly report against this trajectory as part of the government’s drive to replace agency staff with permanent workers.

As previously clarified during the HFMA annual conference last week, providers must do everything in their power to “sort themselves out” next year.

This includes agreeing with both NHS England and NHS Improvement a “credible plan” for achieving seven-day services by 2020 and for maintaining delivery standards – including the four-hour A&E target, the 18-week referral to treatment target and, where relevant, the ambulance access standards.

Repeating what he said during the conference, Jim Mackey, chief executive designate of NHS Improvement, said: “The NHS is dealing with some significant challenges at the moment. This funding gives NHS providers the hope and possibility of doing things they have been unable to do this year: balance the books and deliver good emergency care performance.

“We will be working with them to ensure they get back to the levels of performance the NHS should expect and its patient deserve. Alongside this, trusts need to look at longer term transformations to meet changing patient needs over the coming years.”

The £1.8bn cash will be split into two parts. Part of it will be distributed to all providers of emergency care, but only if they demonstrate initial progress against the mandatory conditions and set agreed control totals with NHS Improvement.

The second slice will be used to target providers capable of delivering extra efficiencies and improvements.

Both elements of the cash pool, released on a quarterly basis, are expected to strengthen trusts’ currently weak financial position. The department, NHS England and NHS Improvement, all leading the initiative together, will write shortly to trusts with details of how this cash will be distributed.

Simons Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive, commented: “We’ve rightly decided to employ a meaningful chunk of next year’s hard won NHS funding growth to help get hospitals back on their feet, and in return patients and taxpayers will expect a return to fundamental performance standards and financial discipline.

“As that happens, we need to accelerate care design and free up a rising share of the NHS’s new investment for critical priorities such as primary care, mental health and cancer services. The NHS’s five-year funding allocations being agreed at the NHS England public board meeting [today] aims to do just that.”

Separately, Monitor board papers revealed yesterday that three potential options have been produced for potentially setting the National Tariff over more than a year.

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