The must read stories at the end of Confed week

Things are about to get ‘bloody tough’

Simon Stevens was in no mood play down the monumental challenge facing the NHS over the coming years during his address to the NHS Confederation conference on Friday.

The NHS England chief executive tactically admitted in his speech that the additional £8bn of funding allocated to the NHS in the spending review was unlikely to be enough, but warned that the service was unlikely to receive any additional cash.

Things are going to be “bloody tough”, he warned. In any case, there was a “strong argument” that if ministers were able to find any extra cash down the back of the Number 11 sofa, they should prioritise social care over the NHS.

He said: “I do not believe it would be prudent for us to assume any additional NHS funding over the next several years, not least because I think there is a strong argument that, if there were extra funding to be available, frankly, we should be arguing that it should be going to social care.”

Mr Stevens also revealed the government is planning a major intervention next month to call on NHS organisations to improve their finances.

It is thought that what he referred to as a “reset” will involve senior government figures impressing the importance of NHS organisations improving their financial positions. It may also entail new national measures aimed at cutting costs, though HSJ udnerstands that these are yet to be decided.

Mackey in for the long haul

While Simon Stevens was laying down some home truths for the NHS, Jim Mackey had revealed plans for new homes for NHS staff.

The NHS Improvement boss announced at the Confed conference on Thursday that plans are being drawn up to build 22,000 affordable homes on excess NHS land, which would be offered to health service staff in areas where key they are being priced out of the housing market such as London.

This followed data released earlier in the week showing that trusts had sold land worth more than £250m in 2015-16 and had surplus land with a “declared market value” of £334m.

Mr Mackey told the annual NHS gathering that NHSI and DH “colleagues are working on a plan to try and utilise the NHS estate better to provide more affordable housing for NHS staff”. “It’s not in the category of being fixed next week or next year but it’s absolutely on the agenda, for another 22,000 units over the next few years,” he said.

Like his NHS England counterpart, he also wanted to prepare the NHS for dealing with its financial difficulties for “years”.

He said: “We are going to go at this every day of the week, all of us together, keep generating ideas, keep trying to learn from each other, keep trying to improve the position.

“There won’t be a point where this is fixed, we’ve got years of this. Good organisations do this all the time and our best organisations in the NHS are absolutely at this all the time.”

Although he plans to leave the post after two years, Mr Mackey insisted he is “not going to leave a job that’s only half done”.