Reeves pushes three health priorities

2 Dec 99
There must be no let-up in health authorities' and trusts' battle to bear down on debt and meet the government's targets, NHS Executive finance director Colin Reeves said this week.

03 December 1999

In his annual address to the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) conference, Reeves reiterated the importance of the government's health service objectives, which include financial stability.

Noting the HFMA's recent survey, which estimated that the English NHS would be £200m in debt by March, Reeves acknowledged there were cost pressures. Although he announced that the English NHS accounts will be unqualified for the fifth year running in 1998/99, he said he was particularly concerned about clinical negligence following a recent court judgment.

'The judgment in Thomas v Brighton Health Authority is likely to result in 25% being added to all claims involving future loss. Similarly, the recent Law Reform Commission proposals could result in greater damage for psychiatric loss and a 50% increase in general damages,' he said.

He urged trusts to hold down the level of claims by mediation, paying annuities to claimants, implementing Controls Assurance and using specialist defence solicitors if necessary.

He insisted that health authorities and trusts should not lose sight of the three priorities for 1999/2000 – maintaining financial stability, reducing waiting lists and managing winter pressures.

'All three objectives are of equal importance and no one objective is more important than the other two,' he said. 'So please do all that you can to ensure the hard-won gains of the past two years, when we brilliantly reduced the financial deficit from £460m to £17m, are not lost.'


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