King’s Fund: money needed for NHS reforms being used to close spending deficit

27 Oct 16

Diversion of NHS funds from plans to reform services in order to cover hospital deficits could jeopardise plans to improve patient care outlined in the five year plan for the health service in England, the King's Fund has warned.

In a progress report on the NHS Five Year Forward View – which covers the period to 2020 – the health think tank said only £300m out of £2.1bn purportedly allocated this year to the NHS sustainability and transformation fund would be invested in new services.

The other £1.8bn was instead being used to cover NHS providers’ deficits for the coming two years.

The King’s Fund chief executive Chris Ham said this meant “national NHS bodies are effectively leaving the NHS without the investment needed to deliver the transformation of services set out in the Forward View”.

The report said there had been progress in implementing the Forward View’s reforms in new care models programme, sustainability and transformation plans and in devolution.

But two years into the Forward View “much remains to be done to align national policies with the improvements in care it is seeking to bring about”.

Areas that needed attention included payment systems to support new care models, regulation of care systems and the use of contracts to support primary and acute systems and multispecialty community providers.

 “New care models hold out the prospect of moderating rising levels of demand, including through better integration of health and social care and more investment in community services to provide alternatives to care in hospitals or care homes,” Ham added. “These models are still under development, but the most advanced hold out real promise.

“The challenge is that developing new care models requires investment, which is currently in short supply, as well as time. National leaders should hold their nerve, continue to support innovations now well under way, and work to remove legislative and policy barriers to progress.”

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