FINANCE: East of England Strategic Health Authority is planning a £340m masterplan promoting “joined up” care in the region, in line with the government’s commitment to boost the integration of services.

Changes made to the Health Bill following the NHS Future Forum’s report mean the sector regulator Monitor will work “with a view to enabling health care services… to be provided in an integrated way”.

NHS East of England is in discussions with GPs and NHS bodies over plans to tender projects worth up to £340m to create “integrating pathway hubs”.

A spokeswoman for the SHA said: “The key driver behind the project is to ensure that patients receive joined-up care which suits their needs, in settings that are convenient and appropriate.” 

Meanwhile, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show how primary care trusts in the region last year spent the 2 per cent top slice, which was intended to be invested during the transition to the NHS commissioning model.

Some £80m of the £174m pot was invested in service redesign and quality, innovation, productivity and prevention (QIPP) schemes.

The figures reveal variation across the region in how the fund was spent. An additional £7m went on “one off commissioning, referral management or prescribing incentive schemes”. Two PCTs spent more than £2m on such schemes, while six spent none.

£1.8m went on “dealing with” a backlog of patients waiting to be treated. More than half of this was spent by Norfolk, which spent nearly £1m dealing with poor performance against the 18 week referral to treatment target. The PCT has reduced its percentage of patients breaching the target from 16.3 per cent in May 2010 to 9.8 per cent this May.

£10m was spent on “workforce configuration”, primarily on redundancy costs across the region.

The region spent £16m of the funding on public health initiatives. This varied from Suffolk and Cambridgeshire PCTs – which spent around a third of their funds on public health – to Luton and South West Essex which spent none.

More than 5 per cent of the fund, reserved for non-recurrent spending, was not committed to a non recurrent cause at the end of the year, when the SHA took account of the spending. This included £4.5m at South West Essex PCT, which performed a £43m turnaround in the year, and £3.5m at Mid Essex PCT.