The Department of Health is to provide an additional £250m to the NHS to help providers clear their planned care waiting list backlogs.
The DH also said there would in 2014-15 be a £400m fund for “winter pressures”, £250m of which was announced last year by NHS England, aimed at addressing pressure in accident and emergency departments.
The NHS has also been told to create “system resilience groups” in each area to oversee elective and emergency performance.
The £250m funding for elective care will be made available over the next few months and NHS England will work with clinical commissioning groups to allocate it based on each provider’s needs.
In many cases the money will only be allocated to providers once a detailed plan for how it will be used has been signed off by NHS England.
Meanwhile, the winter pressure A&E funding will be available to all trusts. This contrasts with 2013-14, when an initial £250m was targeted at those most struggling with A&E. Later in the year a further £150m was made available for all trusts.
This year, part of the winter pressure fund - £50m – will be held centrally to help schemes including increasing NHS 111 capacity and supporting ambulance services.
NHS England guidance issued today called for a “whole system” approach, and said planning for elective and non-elective care would be the responsibility of “system resilience groups”. These will be created in each area out of urgent care working groups which were set up last year.
The guidance states: “After the success that UCWGs have achieved in the past year, there is now a need for these groups to build upon their existing roles, and expand their remit to include elective as well as urgent care. They will now become the forum where capacity planning and operational delivery across the health and social care system is coordinated.”
The guidance also states: “It is imperative that resilience is delivered while maintaining financial balance. There can be no trade-off between finance and performance.”
System resilience groups will create local plans which must include elective care capacity planning, increasing primary care capacity to avoid unplanned admissions, and a move towards seven day working for social care workers to aid hospital discharge.
The “majority” of money will be allocated on a “fair share” basis according to CCGs’ populations, according the guidance sent by NHS England.
Areas identified as “high risk” will only receive funds after NHS England sign off. Areas with good performance will have “earned autonomy” and not require sign off.
Foundation Trust Network chief executive Chris Hopson said: “The FTN is pleased that our arguments over equity and transparency in allocating funds have been heard. The earlier allocation of funding will give local NHS and social care organisations more time to plan how best to use the funds effectively for patients.” However, he added: “In the longer term we would want this one off extra investment incorporated into a single, stable, recurrent funding stream that matches what providers need to provide high quality care for patients.”
A DH spokeswoman said: “With an ageing population pressure on the NHS is inevitably increasing so we are overseeing a one-off programme to tackle the sharp rise in demand for elective surgery.”
New funding: Guidance
- Encourages consultant-led rapid assessments in A&Es and care pathways for patients who use the service regularly are also encouraged.
- For elective care SRGs should develop a referral to treatment training programme for staff, ensure that patients are aware of their ‘patient choice’ rights under the NHS constitution and immediately review local application of the RTT rules paying particular attention to pauses in patients’ care pathways.
- SRGs should “normally” be chaired by a CCG leader, with membership including providers, commissioners and social care organisations.
- Plans must be submitted to CCGs’ NHS England area team by 30 July.
- All plans should be published and make use of the 70 per cent marginal non-elective tariff funding. This will need to be made clear in the SRG’s reporting.