With the NHS turning 70 on the 5 July 2018, leading finance professionals on ACCA UK’s health service panel have offered their thoughts about how to maximise the value of future funding to create a world-class health service.
Theresa May’s recent statement that funding plans for the NHS should ensure “every penny is well spent” was the catalyst for ACCA’s snapshot poll of panel members’ thoughts and hopes for the future. To achieve an excellent quality service, members argued that:
- recruitment needs to be sustainable, with the right people in place to do the work – major investment will be required in medical and nursing staff as the NHS re-balances its workforce;
- all professionals in the NHS need to work together and plan for the long-term;
- investment in technology is a must, and more investment is needed to respond to demographic driven healthcare pressures.
Alex Metcalfe, head of public sector policy at ACCA says: 'A relentless focus on outcomes for patients will be crucial to ensure that additional funding for the NHS has the greatest possible impact. Alongside maintaining the quality of care, policymakers need to allocate more funding to preventative services to maximise the value of public funds.
‘Historically, it’s been difficult to demonstrate value for money in prevention since many of these initiatives require up-front funding with the expectation of downstream savings. Therefore, a major parallel investment in IT and healthcare technology will be imperative. Effectively employed, emerging technology enables us to do more for less, while also tracking outcomes through high-quality patient data to improve health professionals’ understanding of which preventative initiatives are most effective.
‘I was particularly struck by one respondent’s feedback that "the NHS is quite possibly the UK’s most valuable asset and should be treated as such", adding that finance professionals need to play their part. The UK population has a great affection for the NHS, as do our panel members. It’s clear they want to play their part in sustaining this essential service.'
Specific comments from a number of leading finance professionals included:
Ben Catlin, Deputy Director of Finance in the NHS and ACCA health panel member: ‘Agree a longer term NHS pay deal: The 18/19 NHS pay rise was a step in the right direction, but still needs to be future focused. Employees shouldn't have to wait every year to find out whether their pay is going up or down in real terms. A longer term deal will fund NHS employee pay to at least the level of inflation for the next 5 years; this will give front line staff more financial security and stability as well as a boost in morale.’
Mohammad Nawaz, ACCA health panel member: ‘I’d advise the NHS uses the funds to adapt or develop technology where it is needed. Hospitals and surgeries have restricted technology in use; however, ICUs seem considerably better. The NHS should look into increasing the technology used in all the wards in hospitals to better assist patients.’
Stuart Davies, Director of Finance at Welsh Health Specialised Services: ‘New models of care will need to be developed to deal more effectively with the ageing population and patients with life-long multiple co-morbidities with much greater flexibility across the system.
'The NHS will need to respond to the rapid emergence of new technologies, drugs and the opportunities from personalised medicine. However, the introduction of innovation will need to be carefully managed in order to continue to secure value for money and maximum real health gain for the population.’
Shekh Motin, CFO at NHS Medway Clinical Commissioning Group: ‘The government’s announcement to increase the NHS funding in England by an average of 3.4% over the next few years is welcome. However, it should be in the context of:
- the lowest annual growth since 2010 compared to the previous period;
- levels of funding remaining lower than needed to sustain and transform.
'The NHS has to develop plans and interventions that would ensure optimal return to the taxpayer. Finance professionals within the health sector need to ensure the best return is achieved for this investment and that the use of technology drives improvements.’
Pamela Dyson FCCA, Sustainable Development Consultant: ‘The NHS is quite possibly the UK’s most valuable asset and should be treated as such. It offers a unique opportunity to ensure the good health of a whole population on a sustainable basis. It is also a key partner to the worldwide health system.
‘Those who engage with the service - all of us - must utilise the resources responsibly and continue to feed our own expertise and experiences into the system. Those who manage the NHS have the responsibility to design an operational system that will deliver the needs of the population - prevention, treatment, cure and care – to the best quality and at a cost that is affordable.
‘The funds that are available to the NHS must be managed with the utmost integrity and respect, ensuring public value. The tools that enable the NHS to work must be modern and continuously evolving. The approach to technology must be innovative and agile, skills must be updated continuously, working behaviour and attitudes must be delivered with compassion and care to match the needs of the individuals being served. As dedicated, expert professionals, ACCA members have a key role to play in developing the future of the NHS. We all need to step up to that challenge now.’
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