FINANCE: The chief executive of South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust has criticised a draft local “system plan” for assuming providers will deliver services for below tariff prices.

In his report to the trust’s January board meeting, Glen Burley said the system plan for the Arden cluster area, was required to be submitted to the West Midlands strategic health authority “in the coming weeks”.

He said: “There remains however a gap between current levels of access across the system and what is financially affordable in future years.”

Mr Burley said that as Monitor guidance emphasises that a large proportion of healthcare will be subject to strict tariffs, providers should concentrate on reducing costs, while commissioners should focus on cutting demand.

“The current plan confuses some of these roles and implies that providers will be expected to deliver current volumes of activity at below tariff prices.

“We have therefore emphasised to the primary care trust and the emerging clinical commissioning groups that we are confident in our ability to deliver whatever volume of healthcare they feel is affordable within national tariff prices.”

The provider has also stressed the difficulties caused when commissioners fail to manage demand. “It becomes difficult when planned volume levels are exceeded resulting in capacity shortfall and the need to incur excess marginal costs to maintain access times to national standard levels,” said Mr Burley.

Mr Burley added that there was a “relatively large gap” between “our assumptions of next year’s contract values and the affordability envelope of the PCT”.

He said if there was no agreement the trust would revert to the national contract, which would lead to higher costs for the PCT and additional risks of fines to the trust.