A recent report has warned that efficiency savings made in 2012 by the NHS are “unsustainable”, and possibly threaten efforts to reach savings targets set out by the Department of Health (DoH).
The “Progress in Making NHS Efficiency Savings” report from the “National Audit Office” (NAO) states that the savings so far have been the easiest to make, and that these levels are not sustainable. The NAO assert that these savings have been made through pay freezes for public sector staff and reductions in the prices primary care trusts pay for healthcare services.
The “Nicholson Challenge” sees the NHS attempting to reach £20 billion in efficiency savings by 2015. Directives from the government assert that these savings should be accrued from sustainable sources, and not simply one-off cuts and staff redundancies. The research suggests that £520 million of the reported savings for 2011/12 were one-off in nature, with the NHS having to find replacement savings in future years.
There is also criticism of the reporting process through which trusts currently provide evidence of financial performance, with the NAO only able to substantiate £3.4billion worth of savings, compared to the DoH’s claim of £5.8 billion during 2011/12.
It is thought that the transformation of services is the greatest opportunity for savings, but that Trusts have been slow to consider this option.
Ayas Morse, Head of the NAO, said “to build on these savings and to keep pace with the growing demand for healthcare, it will need to change the way health services are provided and do so more quickly.”
To address these issues, the report makes the following recommendations:
- The DoH should take a more active interest in demand management and develop ways of gaining routine assurance that patients’ access to healthcare is not being inappropriately restricted
- The DoH and the NHS Commissioning Board should work with the NHS to reduce barriers to transforming services and to evaluate the impact of transformational initiatives as they are implemented to generate evidence about what works locally and on a larger scale to encourage the NHS to apply good practice more widely
- In developing future mechanisms for paying for healthcare, the DoH, Monitor and the NHS Commissioning Board should consider how these mechanisms can be used to drive service transformation and care that is integrated around the patient
- The DoH should develop better ways of monitoring progress on service transformation
- The DoH should provide better guidance to the NHS on how to measure and report efficiency savings so that the total savings reported are more strongly supported by robust data
- The DoH should improve transparency by making clear any caveats to data quality when it reports efficiency savings
Original Source Building Better Healthcare
About Pathway Software
Pathway Software (www.pathwaysoftware.com) specialises in the design and development of patient information systems for Allied Health professionals.
Its flagship product, Therapy Manager, is an Electronic Patient Record (EPR) system specifically designed for Therapy Services to provide decision makers with the ability to track and manage clinical activity and analyse cost of care by patient, episode or service. The system also demonstrably reduces administration time and the costs of managing Therapy Services.