• NHS Improvement sets out which back-office services trusts should prioritise in consolidation plans
  • “In time” providers will have to look at consolidating “all corporate and administrative costs”
  • NHS Improvement also seeks to improve “accuracy” of its efficiency data

NHS Improvement has written to trust chief executives outlining the back-office and other services that should be included in their consolidation plans.

In June, NHS Improvement chief executive Jim Mackey and chair Ed Smith wrote to trusts asking them to begin planning how their back-office and pathology services could be “consolidated on a regional basis”.

The consolidation is one of the ways NHS Improvement is aiming to bring the provider sector deficit down to £250m this year.

The regulator has initially asked for plans to be drawn up across sustainability and transformation plan footprints “but with a mind to consolidate across larger areas over time”.

In an email sent to trust chief executives on Friday, NHS Improvement said it has received queries about which back-office services should be included in the plans. NHS Improvement said trusts should prioritise the following areas:

Finance

  • Financial accounts
  • Income planning
  • Management accounts
  • Accounts payable
  • Accounts receivable
  • Commercial teams
  • Internal audit

HR

  • Recruitment
  • Workforce analytics
  • Business partners
  • Temporary/staff bank team
  • Learning and development (including training)
  • Communications teams
  • Occupational health

Information management and technology

  • Maintenance team
  • Support desk
  • Informatics team

Procurement

  • Buying/contract management
  • Catalogue management
  • Materials management
  • Payroll
  • Governance and risk
  • Estates and facilities
  • Legal services

However, the email added that “in time” trusts would have to examine “all… corporate and administrative costs”.

The email also said NHS Improvement is seeking to improve the accuracy of the data it holds on trusts’ operating costs.

During Lord Carter’s review of NHS productivity, the Department of Health collected extensive information to “understand the opportunities for improved efficiency both at local level and across health economies”.

The email said this data “does not quite enable a complete picture and in some cases the accuracy needs to be improved”.

Trusts will shortly receive “data templates” for back-office functions and pathology services, which will contain some of the information collected last year.

They will be asked to check the existing data is correct and to fill in additional fields. The completed templates will then be used to support “consolidation business cases” and to create “model hospital” metrics for back-office and pathology services – the efficiency targets trusts will have to aim for.

HSJ reported last week that several figures involved in NHS pathology have raised concerns about a lack of clarity regarding Lord Carter’s efficiency target for the services.