Strategic health authorities have no plans to scale back their delivery of NHS next stage review strategies, despite the toughening financial climate, HSJ can reveal.

Following publication of the next stage review in June 2008, SHAs were asked to provide a vision of how they planned to implement the review over the next 10 years.

The economic crisis means we have to do what we promised, but we have to do it quicker in order to take out the inefficiencies in the system and save money

NHS North West chief executive Mike Farrar

In June this year, NHS chief executive David Nicholson said he would be asking all the SHA regions to re-examine their Darzi visions in light of the current recession.

In August, he wrote to all senior NHS managers, including SHA chief executives, asking them to consider how they would “confront the challenge of delivering the next stage review visions in a tighter financial climate”.

However, after contacting all 10 SHAs, HSJ has learned that none have any plans to alter their frameworks set out in their original Darzi strategies, although some are looking at timetable changes.

A spokesperson for NHS West Midlands said its original plan was “considered and put together alongside a financial and activity model to ensure it was affordable”, and there are no plans to make any changes.

A spokesperson for NHS London said “no performance targets have been removed or reduced, and the requirements for our trusts to meet these standards remains unchanged”.

NHS North West chief executive Mike Farrar said the increasing financial pressures placed on the NHS would require his SHA to implement the framework more quickly.

“What was a 10 year vision now feels more like a two to three year vision and we need to up our game. The economic crisis means we have to do what we promised, but we have to do it quicker in order to take out the inefficiencies in the system and save money,” he said.

As part of its strategy, NHS South West set a target of cutting referral to treatment times down to eight weeks for 90 per cent of admitted patients, and 95 per cent of non-admitted patients by 2011.

Mr Nicholson had said this particular goal was one ripe for review, questioning its sustainability in a recession.

But the SHA’s director of strategic development John Bewick said changes in the economic situation were taken into consideration when formulating the original strategy.

“We very much agree with David Nicholson that regional plans need to be deliverable in the tougher economic climate, and we did take a changing financial outlook as the basis for our planning assumptions,” he said.

“Patients in the South West are enjoying some of the shortest waiting times in the country, and we are confident that we can go on to reduce the waits even further to eight weeks as planned,” he said.