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Dalton’s diktat

NHS Improvement has told providers their activity, workforce and financial plans for the new financial year “do not look realistic or achievable”.

In an email to the sector on Wednesday afternoon, NHSI chief executive Ian Dalton said plans submitted by some trusts are “not sufficiently robust” and further work is needed to address several issues before final submissions are made at the end of the month.

He wrote: “From my discussions over the last week, I am concerned that some trust 2018-19 plans are not sufficiently robust and need further work.

“In these cases, there is insufficient read-across between activity plans, financial plans and performance trajectories, and capacity and/or workforce assumptions do not look realistic or deliverable, given the current context.

“Given the high levels of occupancy in the system, and the knock-on impact this has on patient experience, performance and system finances, we need to be absolutely clear what can be realistically delivered and where potential capacity and/or performance gaps exist.”

He said each trust should set out bed numbers, capacity, planned activity, planned financial position and “genuinely” anticipated performance levels for each month.

Joint planning guidance published in February by NHSI and NHS England said trusts are required to deliver a combined breakeven position in 2018-19, after accounting for new money announced in the Budget and released by the Department of Health and Social Care.

Serco cleans up

Serco is poised to take over facilities management services at a mental health trust after previous provider Carillion was liquidated.

The outsourcing giant is set to take over maintenance, catering, cleaning and porter duties at the 58 bed Harplands Hospital in Stoke, run by North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare Trust.

Carillion’s collapse affected around 70 staff at the £82m income trust. The trust hopes they will transfer to Serco by May.

A source confirmed to HSJ that Serco has approval “in principle” from the trust and its private finance initiative provider to acquire the contract but the final transaction has not been completed.

Serco is also yet to complete a £30m deal with five other acute trusts whose facilities management services were provided by at least 1,600 Carillion staff.

Sandwell and West Birmingham and Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals trusts are also still in negotiations over finding suitable builders to finish major new privately financed hospitals.