Department of Health officials are planning to attend a joint meeting of the Healthcare Financial Management Association and NHS Confederation in June to discuss how to improve the process of agreeing service and financial frameworks across the NHS.
The decision to have a meeting, scheduled for 15 June, follows concerns across the service about the way in which the SAFFs process developed over the past three months, with some money re-allocated at the end of the financial year.
A total of£155m was re-allocated from central funds to regions at the end of March following concerns about gaps in budgets, particularly in the south of England. All regions are receiving a share of£55m, allocated to assist with issues such as winter planning. A further£52m was allocated recurrently to the four regional offices in the south which have 'the biggest problem with staffing costs', according to the DoH. On top of this,£48m has been allocated non-recurrently to the same four regions, and, as a quid pro quo,£48m re-allocated from their capital funding to regions in the north.
NHS Confederation policy director Nigel Edwards said the point of the June meeting was 'to learn the lessons' of what had happened in the recent SAFFs round, and to try to develop a 'long-term framework' for the process.
Mr Edwards said: 'A lot of people have found it a very bruising process and people have signed up to things that are problematic. '
HFMA chair Mark Millar said: 'Clearly it has been far from an ideal process this year. People from the top to the bottom have a common objective to making it better for the future. '
HSJ sources have said that finance directors in northern regions have expressed concerns about the way the extra money was made available to areas where targets had not been reached.
Northern managers argue the DoH was not sufficiently informed about how difficult things have been across the country, and that regional offices differ significantly in how they provide information on the real situation.
In addition to the extra money for regions, HSJ also understands a decision has been taken to increase the money that teaching hospitals get for their research and teaching activities.
The decision follows a letter in February from teaching hospitals' directors of finance to NHS chief executive Nigel Crisp about the financial difficulties the trusts were facing.