Focus on local health services to improve NHS efficiency, says trade organisation

12 Oct 18

Improving local health system is the best way of improving efficiency in the NHS, a report from a trade association has said.

NHS Providers found, through a survey of 122 NHS trust leaders, that 61% ranked making their local systems work better would deliver the greatest efficiency gains.

Respondents gave a number of examples, in the Making the most of the money report released on Monday, of where local health service efficiencies could be made.

These included:

•          integration of out of hospital care providers (GPs, community and social care)

•          pooling budgets (to get better value from collective resource)

•          reduced bureaucracy and regulatory burdens across the system.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “Trusts believe that better system working, integrating services and addressing workforce challenges offer the greatest long term opportunities to improve the quality of care and use resources more efficiently.”

NHS Providers also revealed that just one in five trusts that responded were confident that they could increase efficiency savings over the next five years.

Hopkins added: “It is clear from this report that there are opportunities for further efficiencies - trust leaders recognise that - but their confidence in being able to deliver them is low.”

The trade organisation warned that the current method of driving efficiency, which it said is done by setting an “over-ambitious, top level targets”, is no longer sustainable.

Just 10% of leaders thought their trust would be set a reasonable efficiency target for the next five years, according to the survey.

Hopson said trusts must be allowed to develop efficiency plans “with national and local system leaders, to ensure they are realistic and can be delivered within a reasonable timeframe”.

“They will also need more support from national leaders to achieve efficiency gains at local system level where the greatest opportunities lie,” he added.

The survey found that while most trust leaders (71%) agreed that there was a waste in the NHS through inefficiency, many pointed out that it compared well with other health services internationally.

The Department of Health and Social Care has been contacted for comment.

Last week, auditors warned that two Scottish health boards were experiencing financial difficulties.

In September, data from the watchdog NHS Improvement revealed that the provider sector had plunged 10% further into deficit.

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