A second wave of winter pressure funding is to be made available for all accident and emergency departments, HSJ has discovered.
The Department of Health is this week expected to announce the creation of a new £150m fund, targeted at emergency departments that are not receiving a share of the £250m fund unveiled in September.
It is understood that foundation trusts’ receipt of the funds will be linked to an agreement to comply with additional performance management of their A&E departments.
NHS England and the NHS Trust Development Authority are already closely monitoring and managing clinical commissioning groups and NHS trusts. Particular attention has been paid to figures relating to cancelled operations and the temporary closures of A&E departments at exceptionally busy times, although the extent of the intervention has led to complaints about a culture of micromanagement.
However, foundation trusts’ independence restricts the scope for national organisations, including their regulator Monitor, to demand additional information from them or intervene more closely in their performance.
HSJ understands the announcement of the new funds will be linked to foundation trusts agreeing to comply and cooperate with requests in a similar way to trusts and commissioners.
Nineteen foundation trusts and 34 trusts received a share of the £250m in the first wave of funds. These were the trusts judged by Monitor and the authority to be at risk of struggling. Some argued it rewarded poorly performing trusts.
The Foundation Trust Network has been calling for NHS England’s surplus to be used to fund support for all trusts.
Its chief executive Chris Hopson said: “The Foundation Trust Network has been lobbying hard since the summer for money to go to all of the trusts. It called last week specifically for the money to come from the NHS England surplus.
“This is a discussion that’s still going on across Whitehall about whether or not this will work but we hope that it will.”
One foundation trust medical director said extra funds would be only a temporary solution, when winter pressures were inevitable without longer term planning.
“It’s all going to go completely pear shaped and they know it. It’s entirely predictable,” he said.
“It would be much more helpful if they gave [funding] to social services − that’s one of the biggest problems. One of the overwhelming issues for struggling accident and emergency departments is they can’t get people back into long term care.”