Additional NHS funds to be linked to efficiency

The health secretary has announced that £1.5bn of the additional funding for the NHS to be announced in the Autumn Statement will only be available to hospitals that provide plans to become more “efficient and sustainable” and “deliver their commitment to a paperless NHS by 2018”.

Jeremy Hunt told the Commons yesterday about how the new money would be distributed and the Department of Health’s plan for the implementation of the Five Year Forward View.

Of the £1.7bn that is to “support and modernise the delivery of frontline care”, £1.5bn will be for support while only £200m appears to have been allocated to the modernisation aspect.

“To access this [£1.5bn of] funding, we will ask hospitals to provide assured plans showing how they will be more efficient and sustainable in the year ahead and deliver their commitment to a paperless NHS by 2018,” the health secretary said.

NHS England has said the £1.5bn will be allocated to normal commissioning budgets for 2015-16, so it is unclear how Hunt’s requirements will be applied. The national commissioning body is due to decide its allocation process at a board meeting on 17 December.

He added that the other £200m would be made available to “pilot new models of care set out in the Forward View”.

He said: “To deliver these new models, we will need to support the new CCGs in taking responsibility, with partners, for the entire health and care needs of their local populations. So as well as commissioning secondary care, from next year they will be given the opportunity to co-commission primary care, specialist care, social care – through the Better Care Fund – and for the first time, if local areas want to do it, public health. The NHS will therefore take the first steps towards true population-health commissioning, with care provided by accountable care organisations.”

Last week the King’s Fund published a briefing calling for £2bn of funding for the health service in England to be included in the Autumn Statement to help avoid a financial crisis.

Responding to Hunt’s statement, Chris Ham, chief executive of the King’s Fund, said: “The additional funding for the NHS confirmed today will provide a substantial boost for frontline services and is an important step forward, especially with the public finances still under significant pressure.

“However, even if the very challenging estimates for productivity improvements it outlined can be achieved, an additional £8bn a year in funding will be needed by 2020. While the investment confirmed today will provide welcome short term relief for hard-pressed services, it is therefore clear that more will be needed to keep pace with future demand and fund changes to services. So this must be the first instalment in a sustained funding increase during the next Parliament.”

Hunt also confirmed that £1bn will be invested in primary and community care facilities over the next four years, a move that was also welcomed by the King’s Fund.

“The additional funding to improve GP facilities is also welcome at a time when general practice is under significant pressure,” Ham said. “This new investment needs to go hand in hand with reform to encourage practices to work together in federations to provide a wider range of services to their patients.”

In his statement the health secretary also announced the creation of the Genomics England Clinical Interpretation Partnership which will involve researchers working with NHS clinical teams to “interpret genomic information so we go further and faster in developing diagnostics, treatments and therapies for rarer diseases and cancers”.

He added: “Too often people with such diseases have suffered horribly because it’s not economic to invest in finding treatments.”

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