Use your cash, says finance chief

7 Dec 00
Departing NHS finance director Colin Reeves has urged health authorities to spend the extra cash they have been given in the current financial year as a 'necessary first step in making the NHS Plan a reality'.

08 December 2000

At the Healthcare Financial Management Association annual conference in London this week, Reeves said a number of authorities may not be able to spend all their funds.

He suggested the money should be used sensibly to provide a platform for implementing the NHS Plan.

There is considerable disquiet among ministers that the health service will have a surplus this year even though some waiting times remain high and frontline staff are viewed as underpaid.

Reeves singled out waiting times and primary care for particular attention. Although the government's inpatient waiting-list target had been reached, the number of outpatients waiting more than 13 weeks was 116,000 above target.

Some health authorities had not passed this year's extra funds to Primary Care Groups despite a direction to do so from the health secretary. 'I would urge all health authorities to work closely with your PCGs to make this a reality,' Reeves said.

He added that English health authorities will receive on average an extra 8.5% in 2001/02. Ring-fenced funding and cost pressures would account for around 5.5%, assuming the NHS makes efficiency gains of 2%.

This will leave around £1bn for NHS Plan projects, such as reducing coronary heart disease and improving cancer care.

'The important thing now is that this vision is fully implemented. This is the great task ahead of us over the next few years and it will not be easy,' he said.

Reeves paid tribute to the service's improved corporate governance, although he announced that the National Audit Office had qualified the English NHS accounts for the first time in six years.

'The accounts of one health authority received a minor qualification which is a great shame,' he said. 'But let us keep it in perspective.

'Over the past six years, one set of accounts out of a total of 3,115 has been qualified. That's not a bad old record and let's hope we can keep it up in the future.'


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