HSJ’s roundup of Wednesday’s key stories

Frontline services face ‘real trouble’

HSJ’s number crunchers have put together the most comprehensive picture of the financial outlook for the acute trust sector in 2015-16, which points to a net overall position of a £2.1bn deficit.

As a result, experts have warned that patients could end up waiting longer for treatment as the sector tries to tackle its impending financial black hole.

Eighty per cent of the trusts for which we have data have forecast they will end 2015-16 in the red. Our map shows how the end of year forecasts are splitting regionally.

The Health Foundation’s chief economist Anita Charlesworth told HSJ that trusts’ financial problems could start to affect frontline services such as planned care.

She added that this would be a “double-edged sword” from a provider perspective because elective treatment can be more profitable than emergency care.

One reader, anonymously, suggests a solution to this present malaise. Below the story they comment: “We need to get rid of all of the clinical commissioning groups! Duplication, waste and inflated salaries.” Interesting take: We’re not sure that gets quite to the root of a £2.1bn deficit problem.

Digital tech could save the NHS £10bn

Plans to roll out the use of digital technology in the health service could result in efficiency savings up to £10bn by 2020, work conducted for NHS England has estimated.

The national body today published plans which aim to make the NHS fully digital by 2020, including new regulatory powers and allowing patients to write in their care records from 2018.

Another key part of the plan would enable regulators to take action over NHS organisations not meeting standards, but several new considerations have also been added since November.

These include the possibility of turning the entire NHS estate into a free wifi zone, with officials saying this could massively reduce the administrative burden, by enabling greater use of hand-held devices by doctors, nurses and care staff.

The plans have been met with more than a little cynicism, with some readers citing past “flops” such as the Connecting for Health initiative.