Headlines: December 2nd, 2005

Expert teams are to be sent into NHS organisations that are expecting to face financial problems to help them develop more cost-effective services. The ‘turnaround’ teams of financial and management specialists will be drawn from within the NHS and from the independent sector.News of the teams was given by NHS chief executive Sir Nigel Crisp, who said they would work with strategic health authorities, hospital trusts and primary care trusts facing the greatest financial challenges for this year. He said latest figures showed most NHS organisations were successfully managing finances alongside delivering efficiency savings.

“However, it is clear that, half way through the financial year, a minority of NHS organisations are failing to manage within the resources available, despite receiving significant increases in funding. Our minimum goal for the next financial year is to get the NHS back in balance. New teams of financial and management experts will help the NHS identify opportunities to deliver services with greater cost-effectiveness. They will help the local NHS improve patient care and achieve financial balance,” Sir Nigel said.

Six-month forecast figures from the Department of Health show around two thirds of NHS bodies are balancing their books or better, with 37 organisations – 7 per cent – accounting for two thirds of the projected gross deficit. Sir Nigel made it clear that the teams were not designed as ‘a financial bail-out of trusts in difficulty’. Organisations in deficit would have to repay any debt, he said.

The teams will include NHS staff with a track record of helping challenged NHS trusts. They will look at a range of ways to improve the efficiency of clinical and support services and offer suggestions to local management. The exact role of the teams and the length of time that they spend with a particular Trust will be tailored to their specific needs.