‘Tell us to get out of the way’, NHS England finance chief tells STPs

8 Dec 17

Sustainability and transformation partnerships should tell NHS England if it is “getting in the way”, the HFMA annual conference heard yesterday.

Matthew Style, director of strategic finance at NHS England, encouraged local areas to adopt accountable care systems (ACSs) – which evolve from STPs – where possible.

But, speaking at the conference in London, he added: “I am conscious some things we [NHS England] do make local relationships at a local level more strained.

“We get in the way. You do and should keep us to account on that.”

NHS England was committed to ACSs, he said, and areas that did not have them – if they feel ready - should adopt the principles.

“The finance community has a pivotal role to play to drive forward this agenda,” he added. He advised the audience that any investments they made should “show demonstrably [they] are sustainable as a whole”.

Style also told the conference the Budget package “hasn’t taken away stark challenges we are facing” and that NHS England would not be changing the way fund was allocated next year.

Philip Hammond promised £10bn of capital investment to the health service by 2020 in the Budget last month.

Style also predicted there would be clinical commissioning group mergers in the future.

Bob Alexander, the deputy chief executive and director of resources at NHS Improvement, also addressed the conference. He told delegates they were doing a “tremendous job” but warned there was still a reliance on “non-recurrent stuff”. The Treasury stipulates NHS commissioners set aside 1% uncommitted spending at the start of a financial year as a buffer for ‘non-recurrent’ health economic priorities.  

Alexander also warned NHS finance managers not to let “risks hang in the air” and advised: “Some of the best help comes from those colleagues who are a little bit removed from the day to day”.

This was Alexander’s last speech to the conference as he is leaving his role to become chair of Sussex and East Surrey STP next year.

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