FTN says savings are not affecting patient care
The Foundation Trust Network told the Health Select Committee today (Tue 13 Nov 2012) that most NHS trusts are on target to make efficiency savings of over 5% again this year - but future savings of this magnitude will require game changing activity. Chris Hopson, chief executive, Foundation Trust Network said that evidence from trusts demonstrates that the savings being realised under cost improvement plans are not affecting the quality of patients' care. He also said that about 10 per cent of providers are under financial pressure at the moment, but the numbers could escalate and may do so rapidly in the coming years, he warned.
Jim Mackey, chief executive, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust told the Health Select Committee: “We’ve done all the easy stuff, it’s going to get harder and harder.” He outlined the steps his trust was taking to ensure that the board is focussed on care quality when finding efficiency savings.
Tony Spotswood, chief executive, Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation, said that savings at his trust had come from ensuring patients receive care in a much more efficient way for both the NHS and patients. He has managed to reduce the number of beds by 240 while treating more patients who have told the trust that the quality of care they receive is improving.
Philippa Slinger, chief executive at Heatherwood and Wexham Park NHS Foundation Trust, said that there were ways of making savings without losing staff numbers. A year ago her trust spent £1.8m a month on temporary staff, but that is now down to £500,000 a month and the trust has recruited 350 staff. “The point is about how you use your workforce,” she said. “Making sure you drive down the agency staff massively reduces pay bill.”
Chris Hopson said that NHS trusts just wanted to have conversations with their staff about pay and conditions as managers in other industries do. “There is a natural assumption that that will end up with something that harms the workforce,” he said. “But that may well not be the case, the outcome could take the form of job guarantees.”
The Health Select Committee were also told about the way that trusts are penalised for emergency work that exceeds 2008/09 levels, where the ‘surplus’ work is reimbursed at a reduced rate of 30% of its tariff value. Tony Spotswood said that his trust had £3.3m less income than in 2008/09 and yet had 6,000 additional emergency admissions. He encouraged commissioners to trial tariff innovations and welcomed news that the Department of Health and Monitor’s plan to re-examine the emergency admissions tariff policy.