The forthcoming funding increase and long-term plan for the NHS present a valuable opportunity to restore the service to sustainable good performance and financial health. However, in exchange for the funding increase, ambitious and stretching improvements will be required of the health service. Whether the new money is enough to fund these improvements will significantly depend on the extent to which the NHS can free up resources by reducing waste and becoming more efficient and productive. This is a challenge for individual organisations, but increasingly requires system partners – providers, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and local authorities – to work more effectively together to ensure they deliver the best possible value to the public for every collective pound.
The discussion on provider sector efficiency has often been conducted as a one way, top down, debate with NHS national system leaders setting the overall level of efficiency ask each year and outlining the areas where they believe efficiencies can be made. But it is front line NHS trust leaders who have to own that task and deliver the required savings. If they do not feel ownership of the task, or if they feel the nationally set task is undeliverable, then the potential for greater efficiency can be easily lost.
As the membership organisation for the NHS provider sector, we therefore wanted to give trust leaders a voice in the efficiency debate, particularly as national system leaders finalise the new NHS long-term plan. We have canvassed opinion from trust leaders via an online survey, and conducted a series of qualitative interviews with trusts and national policy makers. We asked trust leaders about their confidence in delivering a stretching efficiency task, where the opportunities lie, what barriers exist and what support they need to continue to improve their productivity in a financially constrained environment.
We hope that their response is a timely and helpful addition to the national debate and would like to thank all of our contributors.
Chief Executive, NHS Providers