David Smith: Tackling the NHS budget shortfall

David Smith: Tackling the NHS budget shortfall

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s comments last week on the NHS budget shortfall came as no surprise to those of us within the Health Service. Speaking about the NHS Forward View report (PDF), Mr Hunt said:

A strong NHS needs a strong economy – then it is possible to increase spending this report calls for. We will need to find greater efficiency savings. It will be tough to do so, and don’t underestimate the challenge.

All NHS Trusts have been wrestling with the Cost Improvement Programme for some time and it is clear that things are not going to get any easier in the future.

An integrated approach has to be the answer. We must learn to look at the NHS estate in totality, rather than as organisations made up of discrete and separate parts, all serving different functions. Any solution to the cost problem has to be about efficiency and how we facilitate the future business resilience of the NHS.

An integrated approach

A key aspect in pursuit of this goal is to ensure that the investment strategy for the estate is fully integrated with the clinical strategy and capacity planning in a way that:

  • resolves backlog issues once and for all
  • facilitates service transformation
  • optimises space utilisation, recognising that non-clinical functions need modern solutions that release space for clinical expansion
  • recognises how investment in Information Management and Technology can reduce the demand on space with obvious capital and revenue cost benefits
  • provides flexible accommodation which can be adapted over time to meet changing needs – and to do so at the best possible cost and with minimum impact on ongoing delivery of clinical services
  • optimises the estate to control overhead costs and reduce carbon emissions
  • recognises the importance of benefits realisation to organisational fiscal wellbeing and, therefore, the need to implement proactive review and delivery of the benefits throughout a project or programme lifecycle.

None of this is new but what has always been challenging is how to deliver a strategy that has longevity and flexibility and which does not fall apart at the first hurdle. At Essentia, we have brought together a team of expert and highly regarded property, healthcare planning, sustainability, IT and construction professionals to support NHS colleagues. We’ve learned that by working as one team we can achieve more. And our knowledge and expertise are underpinned by an empathy with our clients based on overcoming shared experiences and challenges.

Whether the outcome of this integrated strategy is a new building, refurbishment of an existing space or asset disposal does not really matter as long as it is the right solution in securing business and organisational resilience. What is important is that the solution is the output of an integrated and holistic approach that considers the long term as well as the ‘here and now’.

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