HSJ’s round up of the day’s essential stories

Not worth the wait

The long awaited finance reports for the NHS provider sector were finally published on Friday morning – and told everyone what they already knew.

Not only will trusts struggle to improve on the projected £2.1bn deficit for 2015-16, the situation could even get worse.

Despite the dismal outlook, the Department of Health has trotted out a familiar response – it is confident the cost saving measures announced over the summer will help the NHS achieve financial balance.

But closer scrutiny of these measures shows just how hopeful this thinking is.

Midway through the year, the new rules for procuring agency staff have still not been finalised, and the impact they will have on spending is far from clear.

The much vaunted Carter Review into NHS efficiency is already running late, and although the caps on management consultant spending are now in force, the savings made here will be a drop in the ocean.

HSJ has also shown how the financial “stretch targets” issued over the summer have only asked trusts to reduce their deficits by about 16 per cent, which would be the best case scenario.

In his leader, HSJ editor Alastair McLellan said the government “must find a way for the NHS to access significant capital finance from outside the exchequer” – such as banks, pension funds or other private lenders – to rapidly accelerate investment in new facilities and technology, so new care models can be built.

He adds: “It must, of course, do so while avoiding the kind of problems created by private finance initiatives.

“No easy task and little wonder Mr Hunt avoided mentioning the NHS deficit in his conference speech. But the NHS cannot wait much longer for robust answers.”

CCG steps out on its own

A clinical commissioning group in the South has broken ranks the majority of its counterparts in agreeing variations to the GP quality and outcomes frameworks with nearly all its practices.

Aylesbury Vale CCG told HSJ that it is reducing GP practices’ requirement to report on elements of the QOF linked to several long term conditions during this financial year.

The move, agreed with NHS England late last month, is designed to encourage more community based care and reduces the formal reporting requirements of the elements of QOF associated with diabetes, dementia and respiratory conditions.

Aylesbury Vale’s decision follows a controversial move last year by Somerset CCG, agreed by NHS England, to abandon the majority of QOF indicators in favour of a local approach.

It is not known whether any others have followed its lead, but in June none of the 63 groups with delegated responsibility for GP commissioning told HSJ they expected to do so in 2015-16.