NHS Confed 2016 – A year to get our heads down and consolidate

This year’s NHS Confed contained three main themes:

  1. 2016/17 is the year for providers to get their house in order financially. There will be no more bailouts for trusts in the red. The funding settlement is going to get tighter
  2. This year needs to be about action, getting the basics right. Action, not planning.
  3. Provider innovating to solve problems. E.g. Acute providers buying care homes to solve delayed discharge issues. For lots of people that also means digital, reinforced by bob Watchers keynote

Let’s dig into these in a bit more depth:

We’ve known for a long time that the NHS funding for 2015-2020 is U-shaped – front loaded, tight in the middle with a little reprise at the end. What Simon Stevens unsubtley hinted at was that providers, who’ve usually had the luxury of knowing that any deficit will get picked up by someone else, will now not have that option. Anyone in the red can expect a knock on the door from NHS Improvement. There will shortly be an announcement that there is no extra money, so watch out. NHS England has help back £650m from community and mental health as a contingency fund this year.. but this is money that is desperately needed by those providers. i.e. hit your targets or you’re hurting everyone else


Jim Mackay, in his inimitable no bullshit style, has told providers to look inward and get the basics right. ‘We’ve a poor track record on little data, let alone big’ – some rusts can’t even get letter out the right people.  Focus on workforce first – one trust saved a fortune by focusing on clinically led ideas (as an aside, I still think any trust brave enough to break ranks and offer Junior Doctors an alternative contract would reap the workforce benefits short and long term).

We’ve had a couple of years to talk about solutions. This year has to be about action. We face short term problems, but most of the solutions are long term so we bloody well need to get on and start implementing them.

2016 is the year to get skeletons out of closets, fix your gremlins and batten down the hatches because its going to get stormy.

Got the basics right? It’s time to innovate.