Putting the ‘National’ back into the NHS

Posted on 03rd January 2017 | Share

Putting the ‘National’ back into the NHS

We all know that the NHS is constantly undergoing change and non-so more than at present. Due to cuts in budget and an ever increasing aging population our Health Care System is under critical pressure within all disciplines and work streams whether that be clinical or administrative being affected. 

2016 has seen yet another review on the NHS, this time by Lord Carter, with the process being commonly known as the ‘Carter Review’. This final review focussed on productivity and efficiencies in the NHS, which went on to reveal major efficiency shortcomings and identified the potential of substantial savings. The review sets out how non-specialist acute trusts can reduce unwarranted variation in productivity and spend to save the NHS £5 billion each year by 2020/21. There are many recommendations within the report that detail how and where these productivity efficiencies can be achieved and the review has set target dates for organisations to achieve key criteria.

Whilst the Carter report’s detailed suggestions are very logical and indeed needed, the recommendations also have the potential to fail. The truth is that the NHS is fragmented in all areas and whilst it’s called the National Health Service, there is very little ‘National’ about it. Yes, as a member of the public we have the privilege to walk into any hospital across the length and breadth of the country and receive care, but it’s not until you look behind the scenes that you can see just how ‘Un-National’ it really is. 

With multiple systems that often don’t talk to each other, patient records that cannot be seen or accessed nationwide, differing clinical processes and approaches you can see the problems staff and trusts have to face. Dig slightly and you will see that different trusts across the UK are doing different things, constantly re-inventing the wheel because they are not aware that someone else may already have the answer and developed a working solution. These have become every day occurrences with very few national based and enforced processes. Standardisation of ‘Supplier Contracts’ is a must as we find suppliers regularly selling to NHS Trusts at different prices, just because of their location on the map. A syringe, catheter, dressing or computer should just have one national price, suppliers cannot be allowed to see the NHS as an open cheque book. It is therefore no wonder that Lord Carter could identify significant savings by just looking at procurement practices alone. 

The Carter Review has given trusts the starting point and has identified some core areas for improvement, but this has to go hand in hand with staff engagement, which will be crucial to help drive the change forward. It is recognised however, that not everything can be done internally and trusts will require some outside assistance for them to realise the efficiencies in productivity they need. Capita Integrated business solutions are poised to help NHS trusts where they can, whether it be via the use of existing integrated systems, by designing interfaces between solutions or by designing totally new web applications. By managing over 60% of the finance systems used by the NHS we get exposed to many approaches and are able to formulate a national best practice that will help to improve efficiencies and deliver sustainability. 

Solutions developed with your trust have the potential of becoming national – imagine what a great accolade that would be, you helping to transform the NHS. Together, trusts and Capita have the opportunity to put the ‘National’ back into the NHS and take us all into the next generation of the best Health Service in the World.

Tim Hughes – Capita Integrated business solutions

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