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NHS Confederation calls for bold action and investment by commissioners to improve sustainability of NHS services

NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar calls on NHS Commissioning Board, due to take the reins in October, to be bolder in releasing the cash in the system to help providers transform their serviceCommenting on the Audit Commission report NHS financial year 2011/12 NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar, said:
"We recognise the position reflected in this report that shows the commissioning side having a good financial position but an increasing number of providers are being squeezed. This is the time for the NHS Commissioning Board to help providers, not with bail outs, but by releasing money to new clinical commissioning groups so they can work with providers to help put them on a sustainable footing by changing the type and range of services they provide.

"Now is the time for big investment in community and primary care. We need to do this to ensure hospitals can sustain local services in the long run.

"Fundamental changes to the way we provide care are necessary if the NHS is to maintain financial balance and become more responsive to patients' needs. Doing this will require some difficult decisions and in some cases will require changing or closing down some services, but this can only happen if we build up the capacity in the community and in primary care to enable people to be treated at home.

"NHS leaders need to start an open discussion with their local communities about why we need to change services and working patterns to improve patient care and make the most of the resources we have. Commissioners can help this by using some of their resources now to support these changes."

Commenting on the specific issues raised in the report about providers, Mr Farrar said:

"NHS providers are expressing some confidence in meeting the immediate financial challenge. But pressures are continuing to grow. It is worrying that the number of trusts in deficit has more than doubled in the past year and a significant number of trusts are receiving financial support. This situation is likely get worse unless we take radical action.

"Short term fixes for struggling trusts are no longer possible.

"NHS organisations cannot afford to stand still. Unless we take action the pressures will overcome us."

Notes to Editors

The NHS Confederation represents all organisations that commission and provide NHS services. It is the only membership body to bring together and speak on behalf of the whole of the NHS. We help the NHS to guarantee high standards of care for patients and best value for taxpayers by representing our members and working together with our health and social care partners.

We make sense of the whole health system, influence health policy and deliver industry-wide support functions for the NHS.

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