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90% of CCGs doubt Better Care Fund benefit

90% of CCGs doubt Better Care Fund benefit


Just a tenth of clinical commissioning groups believe the Better Care Fund (BCF) will improve services for patients and service users in the first year.

The survey commissioned by the Healthcare Finance Management Association (HFMA) shows that clinical commissioning group (CCG) chief finance officers are more optimistic after three years, with 62% believing the scheme will improve services.

The NHS Financial Temperature Check report outlines the views of 41% (188) of the finance directors in England on the financial challenges facing the NHS.

The research shows the number of organisations overspending or reporting a deficit has increased since the 2012/13 financial year and more organisations are reporting an actual deficit than planned to at the beginning of this financial year.

While supporting the move to integrate services, only 2% of provider trust finance directors and 11% of CCG chief finance officers think that the Better Care Fund will help improve their organisation’s services for patients and users in the first year. This rose to 25% and 62% respectively after the first three years.

CCG finance directors were positive about achieving their financial targets in 2014/15, with 54% being quite or very confident, 21% were either not very or not at all, and 25% said it was too early to say.

However, looking ahead to 2015/16, just 25% of CCGs feel quite or very confident that their financial targets will be achieved. Cost pressures cited by CCGs and hospital finance directors include an increasing demand for services, increasing the number of nursing staff and emergency care.

In the last financial year, CCGs and provider trusts delivered planned financial savings of 2.3% and 4.5% respectively, but this was not the case across the board and fell short of the overall planned savings (2.5% and 4.8% respectively).

Paul Briddock, director of policy at the HFMA, said: “Resources are being stretched and although many NHS organisations have just got by, we have seen an increasing number of them report a deficit last year. We are seeing financial problems materialise in organisations that have previously been financially stable. If all things stay equal, the financial outlook looks increasingly challenging, but despite this, it is encouraging to see that finance directors do not see quality deteriorating – in fact, many think quality will improve.

“However, it is clear that the future success of the NHS depends on the clinically led transformation of services, with support from managers and finance staff. Finance directors are clear that this transformation needs to happen faster than at present and we all need to work together to make this happen effectively.”

The HFMA is calling for a focus on five areas over the coming months to ensure that NHS organisations remain clinically, financially and operationally sustainable:

 - Making faster progress on large transformation schemes.
- Having an open and honest debate with the public and government, about the financial challenges facing the NHS.
- Utilising the expertise and skills of NHS financial staff to support much needed change.
- Creating solid foundations for the Better Care Fund so that it achieves its aims.
- Focusing on obtaining the maximum value for every pound spent in the NHS.


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