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Hip hip hurrah?
The government finally published its full “health infrastructure plan” document on Monday evening – some 36 hours after Boris Johnson’s NHS capital spending spree was revealed on Sunday.
Comprising a modest 23 pages, the HIP – as it will no doubt be known in the acronym-loving NHS – included several significant policy changes.
Perhaps the most striking was the Department of Health and Social Care’s support for NHS regulators to take control of foundation trusts’ capital spending.
Being free to spend capital was among the last big perks of being an FT, and DHSC’s move strikes another nail in the coffin for the FT programme, which began under Tony Blair back in 2002.
But, if the proposal succeeds (it will join the raft of legislative changes put forward by NHS England and Improvement), advocates say it will create a fairer way for the NHS to manage its overall capital envelope.
Other parts of the plan may bring more cheer to long-suffering estates and finance chiefs: The moves to simplify the business case process will be welcomed, as will the intention to fast-track some bids.
However, as HSJ has documented, previously promised capital funding has been difficult to access (or, indeed, diverted elsewhere), meaning many in the health sector will remain anxiously waiting for the government to put its money where its mouth is.
Digital control centre
NHS leaders are often left frustrated at their lack of ability to invest in new technology and transformation.
But after several years of planning and negotiation, Salford Royal has managed to pull off a £25m partnership deal with Hitachi Consulting to streamline its care processes with data and digital technology.
The “digital control centre” project will be deployed across the hospital over the next 10 years. And it is expected to bring with it a handy reduction in the trust’s bed base and staffing costs.
The partnership will develop programmes that use the trust’s patient data to make more accurate predictions about demand; enable real-time information about staffing constraints, bed availability and discharge planning; and improve the flow of information.
Key to the investment is a risk share agreement between the trust and Hitachi.
The work is expected to be almost completely funded through forecast cost savings delivered over 10 years, with Hitachi’s fees reducing if those forecasts are not met.