Headlines: July 9th, 2009

Hospitals need to learn the basics of NHS finance to help drive greater efficiency and better patient outcomes, according to the Audit Commission and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. They have joined forces and today are launching a guide to finance for doctors.

The Commission is stressing that the guide is not about focusing on cost alone but also on how money can best be used to improve the quality of care. It is designed as a practical manual to help hospital doctors learn more about the way the money side of the health service works and is expected to be especially useful to medical students and junior doctors.

The guide follows a joint statement about clinicians and finance from the Commission, the Academy, the Royal College of Nursing, the NHS Institute for Improvement and Innovation, the Healthcare Financial Management Association and the Department of Health. It reiterates their belief in the importance of clinical engagement in financial aspects of patient care. The statement was endorsed by Health Minister Lord Darzi, who said that as well as harnessing the skills of health professionals in tough clinical decisions, the NHS needed to bring their judgment to bear on difficult financial and management decisions that had an impact on patient care.

Steve Bundred, the Commission’s Chief Executive said: “We all know that most NHS doctors do a fantastic job but we cannot ignore the fact that the NHS is a 100 billion pound organisation and it is the doctors who dictate where the cash goes. We don’t need doctors to be accountants, but I’ve no doubt we can drive greater efficiency to benefit patients if doctors become more familiar with how the money works.”