Cost management ‘key to success of Five Year Forward View’

25 Jun 15

A renewed focus on cost management across the NHS is needed as part of efforts to deliver reforms set out in the health service’s Five Year Forward View, the Health Foundation said today.

In a report looking at what reforms were needed to implement the plan, the think-tank concluded that improvements were needed across five fronts to make the efficiency gains required.

As well as more active cost management, there was a need to improve and standardise processes and to develop new ways to deliver services through integration with care and support.

The Shaping the future framework also said more use of technology across the health service, and a greater focus on population health, were vital to make improvements to 2020.

Under the last government, the health service had made a number of ‘quick wins’ in cost management, the report said, but it added more could be done, as highlighted by Lord Carter’s efficiency review.

Coordinated action to improve procurement, estates management and use of medicines could all reduce costs. Longer-term funding deals could also help NHS bodies plan more effectively, while there should also be a clear understanding of the negative effects short-term cuts such as reducing management numbers can have.

Health Foundation chief executive Dr Jennifer Dixon said a successful strategy for the NHS was needed to meet the specific needs of the health service.  

Better alignment between different layers of the health service would be critical, she stated.

“Our report outlines the main elements of a strategy which has quality of care and increased productivity at its heart. We hope this framing will help steer policymakers and others in the NHS as they act on multiple fronts to address the challenges ahead.”

Emma Knowles, head of policy and research for the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), said: “The Health Foundation report sets out clearly the challenges facing the NHS in implementing the Five Year Forward View. Delivering the £22bn of efficiency savings outlined in the Forward View will take determined effort on a number of fronts.

“We now need to focus on the practical implementation of the Forward View and transforming the delivery of care so that the NHS becomes operationally, clinically and financially stable. Finance staff have a key role to play in supporting that transformation, providing high quality information on costs and ensuring that delivering value is at the forefront of all changes.”

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