Trusts could save money by making better use of their existing technology, according to Monitor’s first executive director of provider sustainability.
Adam Sewell-Jones, previously deputy chief executive of Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust, joined Monitor in the new role in August. He said he was “keen to push” the use of technology as a priority for NHS Improvement, which is being formed from Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority.
He said: “This isn’t something Monitor is geared up to do particularly at the moment but it’s something that I’m keen to push as part of NHS Improvement.”
He said technology was important to making the £22bn efficiency savings required of the NHS between now and 2020. He said in his “personal experience” he found that, when new IT systems were implemented at trusts “the old one could always do [the same thing] but no one had switched it on or used it”.
Mr Sewell-Jones said: “Without more capital investment we could be driving more out of the technology we have available and that’s even before the cutting edge stuff 13-year-olds are doing at the moment that we’ll catch up with eventually.”
He said it was one of several ways of making savings, and said trusts’ claims that they could not increase efficiencies this year were “rubbish”. Several chief executives have told HSJ they do not believe they can increase planned savings this year.
Mr Sewell-Jones referred to some trusts’ comments that “there’s nothing more we can do” and said: “That is rubbish. There is more we can do. But it’s really hard and I can’t say to people, ‘Of course you can do it, because look what I did’, because the fact is it’s hard graft.”
One route was for providers to examine their staff skill mix, he said. “I suspect if you went on to many wards now you’d find jobs that a lower level admin member of staff could be doing but you’ve got a senior nurse who is sat in the office doing it rather than delivering frontline care,” he added.
Meanwhile, he said his provider sustainability team, established in recent months, was working with the emergency care improvement team to help struggling accident and emergency departments. This will include pairing up trusts with a similar demographic to share learning.
Mr Sewell-Jones said: “If you‘re working in a coastal district general hospital that can’t recruit consultants to be able to benchmark yourself against another coastal DGH is far more useful than hearing what an inner city teaching hospital has done. To be able to say ‘that trust has done something quite innovative there’ you should be having the conversation because it’s a model you could potentially replicate.”
He said it was still “to be decided” what form his team would take when NHS Improvement is created.
“The sooner we can [have a decision on the future] clearly the better for the staff here because you’ve got a lot of people who have a degree of uncertainty of what their role is and if they have a role, but the flipside is we’ve got to get the right model,” he said. “There’s no point rushing into something.”