HSJ’s roundup of Monday’s must read health policy stories

The season of goodwill to all finance directors

Rejoice! Rejoice! National officials are planning to provide an overall cash increase in the national tariff in 2016-17, for the first time in quite a few years, HSJ revealed on Monday.

Provider finance directors will no doubt be moderating any jubilation by pointing out much of the growth will be eaten up paying for increased costs – in particular a jump in national insurance contributions – so don’t expect them to deliver a surplus overnight. They might also raise an eyebrow at the proposal for NHS Improvement to set extra efficiency requirements on individual organisations depending on their performance in the remainder of this financial year. So there will be no easing up on CIPs over Christmas.

The tariff generosity, which may be supplemented by some additional local health economy transformation funds, is designed to cease the pecuniary haemorrhaging that’s taking place in many NHS trusts. National bosses say 2016-17 must be a turnaround year – a firebreak putting an end to further deterioration in deficits, as well as in emergency system performance

This sounds wise – but what will happen in the following two years, as the NHS’s frontloaded funding deal begins to run dry?

Giving integation a bad name

Bad news for fans of the government’s flagship integration policy: local leaders don’t believe it will yield the planned improvements in performance.

A survey of council and NHS finance leaders about the better care fund found that four-fifths of respondents believed the stated reductions in non-elective admissions, touted by ministers a year ago as a key money saving benefit of the policy, would not materialise.

This should not be a surprise to anyone who has tried to implement the policy locally, or who has spoken to anyone who has.

Although the survey found the BCF has helped organisations talk more about integration and forced them to invest where they wouldn’t otherwise have done, the “unrealistic expectations” surrounding the policy were hampering integration. The BCF was “giving integration a bad name”, one commissioner said.

The Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy and the Healthcare Financial Managers Association, which conducted the survey, are also calling for the bureaucracy around the fund to be simplified.