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NHS England has told trusts to review and justify their staffing increases over the last four years, saying there must now be a drive to “consolidate” services and workforce.

The instruction comes in the annual planning guidance for 2024-25, which has been published three months later than normal and just days before the start of the financial year.

The document says: “We have invested in significant extra capacity over the last three years. With total NHS funding flat in real terms for 2024-25 we now need to consolidate.”

It adds: “Integrated care boards are expected to work with acute trusts to complete a full analysis of current productivity compared to that in 2019-20 and put in place improvement plans.

“We expect all acute trusts to recover productivity towards pre-pandemic levels (adjusted for structural factors, case mix changes and uncaptured activity) and make use of national guidance, best practice and toolkits.”

Systems are instructed to “conduct a robust workforce establishment review and develop an action plan to improve workforce productivity. Plans should include a reconciliation of staff increases since 2019-20, identifying the rationale for increases based on outcomes, safety, quality or new service models”.

NHSE expects the work to lead trusts to overhaul job planning and rostering, particularly for doctors, for example; and redeploying staff to make more efficient use of their time and reduce agency use. Some trusts are already trying to hold down their headcount.

Providers will be assessed against a new set of published metrics from later this year, including outpatient appointments per consultant, hours of care per patient day, theatre utilisation, diagnostic utilisation rates and turnaround times, and bank and agency spend.

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Source: HSJ

Date: 2 April

Posted in News on Apr 02, 2024

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