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Hospitals receive £1.8 billion to tackle deficits

Tagged In:  NHS

The government has officially earmarked £1.8 billion of the NHS transformation fund to help challenged hospitals achieve financial balance as they focus on making changes to how they provide high quality care for patients. 

Part of the NHS Five Year Forward View, the fund will be allocated to hospitals that meet strict criteria. It’ll also make the 7-day service a reality, which is a key driver of the Five Year Forward View. 

The conditions for receiving funding have been set by NHS Improvement, NHS England, and the Department of Health. Crucially, hospitals that are apportioned funding will have to work towards a robust and measurable recovery plan. They will need to reduce their deficits and breakeven within a reasonable timeframe, although we’re yet to hear what the expected timeframes are likely to be. 

How trusts manage their staffing will be fundamental, with hospitals needing to demonstrate progress in reducing agency spend. This is in line with the new rules on hiring agency staff, whereby all agency staff employed by NHS trusts must be hired via an NHS approved national framework, which Sanctuary Personnel is already on. 

Sanctions will be introduced to ensure hospitals receiving funding comply and our understanding is that the funding will be split between providers of emergency care and those where ‘additional efficiencies and improvements’ can be made. 

For those working in hospitals throughout England, the much-needed funding could help to transform care, as Jim Mackey, Chief Executive Designate of NHS Improvement, said:

“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.”

The National Audit Office is exercising caution though. Whilst it recognises the value of channeling the £1.8 billion to help those hospitals that need it the most, it has emphasised the need to have a “clearer pathway for trusts to get back to financial stability” and that particular caution should be applied with regards to safe staffing. 

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