The government plans to attach new conditions to bailouts for financially struggling trusts, a health minister has revealed.
Government bailouts for financially struggling trusts could have extra conditions attached under plans outlined by Dan Poulter this week.
Under the plans, senior managers could also be removed from their positions when they fail to demonstrate sufficient savings in procurement and temporary staffing, Dr Poulter told the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.
The Department of Health is expected to set out further details of the new approach in coming weeks.
Dr Poulter indicated the requirements would apply to NHS trusts that finished the year in deficit, and to trusts and foundation trusts requiring loans from the DH in the form of public dividend capital.
He said: “[Trusts] will have to come to us to ask about how that situation can be resolved…
“We will say ‘of course we will give you financial assistance, but you are going to have to now do these things and if you don’t we are going to hold the senior management team to account for that’.
“Changes might have to happen [to management], or there may have to be much greater oversight from Monitor or [the NHS Trust Development Authority].”
Dr Poulter estimated “several hundreds of millions of pounds” could be saved in procurement and “between £600m and £800m a year” by reducing temporary staffing.
He was speaking at a fringe event on Tuesday organised by the Health Foundation.
Dr Poulter said the government was “now going to put in place strong levers” to ensure trusts made savings. He said: “We will make sure they free up the money to care.
“Procurement in the NHS has never been gripped in the way it needs to be gripped until recently.
“Temporary staffing is expensive. [It] costs five or six times as much [as permanent staffing and is] not good in terms of continuity of care.”
Dr Poulter also referred to estate costs as a potential source of savings.
Former health secretary Stephen Dorrell, the Conservative politician who stepped down as Commons health committee chair earlier this year, also spoke at the event.
He called for health and care services to be considered as a “public private partnership” rather than “thinking about health as that which is taxpayer funded”.
Mr Dorrell said “health and care” should be seen “as an activity which goes way beyond the health service” and include “what we do as consumers”, such as going to the gym.
This would entail “recognising the individual responsibility and individual engagement [in] decisions about health and care”, he said “without losing [the] values of the health service”.