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Clinicians plus finance add up to better healthcare

9th February 2009

An unprecedented joint statement calls for clinicians to take more control of NHS money to help improve the quality of care.

If clinicians took more control of NHS money the quality of patient care and value for money would improve, according to doctors, nurses, auditors and the Department of Health.

The statement from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AMRC), Audit Commission, Department of Health, the Healthcare Financial Management Association, NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement and the Royal College of Nursing, says that improvements in the quality of care can only be achieved if there is strong involvement of local clinicians in the management of the service.

This includes having the understanding, the tools and the ability to manage resources effectively, empowering them to lead change and improve services. They warn that, without this, progress will be much slower and the outcomes poorer.

The organisations set out the practical steps to help clinicians get to grips with NHS finance. They are offering practical support locally and nationally. They say that clinicians have a right to expect prompt, reliable information presented in a way that they understand, which is useful to them and well-supported by IT, and for their involvement to be wider than simply being given a budget to manage.

There is also an expectation that strategic health authorities, primary care trusts, NHS trusts and foundation trusts should play their part in training and education.

Health Minister Lord Darzi, said: ‘It’s fantastic that so many organisations have come together to agree this collective statement. My review is very clear: that as well as harnessing the skills of health professionals in making tough clinical decisions, the NHS needs to bring their expert judgement to bear on difficult financial and management decisions that impact on patient care. Only then will the NHS realise its full potential.’

Professor Dame Carol Black, Chairman, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said: ‘The Academy and its partners are clear that improving the quality of care can only be achieved if there is strong engagement of clinicians in the management of the service at every level.  We therefore welcome this joint initiative towards ensuring the financial well-being of NHS organisations and will play our part in supporting the fullest possible involvement of the medical profession.’

Steve Bundred, Chief Executive, Audit Commission, said: ‘We are all striving for better health outcomes and it’s well known that better use of money goes hand in hand with better quality services. Doctors cannot do this alone and they don’t necessarily need an in-depth understanding of the financial issues, but they have a key role because every day they make decisions about where money is spent.’

Chris Calkin, immediate past chairman of the Healthcare Financial Management Association, said: ‘NHS management has been striving for years to move decision making close to the patient and involve clinicians in the decision making process. But making further progress in this area has never been more important. If we are to meet the challenge of delivering 21st century health services, it is vital that we engage positively and proactively with clinicians. The increasing demands and developments in health services can only be met by working together with clinical colleagues to deliver effective and efficient services that the consumer and the taxpayer demand.’

Professor Bernard Crump, Chief Executive Officer, NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, said: ‘Our work at the NHS Institute demonstrates that efficiency goes hand in hand with the delivery of high quality services. Involvement of clinicians in managing resources is of vital importance.’

Dr Peter Carter OBE, Chief Executive and General Secretary, the Royal College of Nursing, said: 'This joint statement is an encouraging step towards empowering clinical staff in the financial decisions which have a profound effect on patient care. It is vital that all steps are taken to keep quality at the heart of patient care, and nurses are on the front line of delivering on that objective.’

The organisations signed up to the clinicians and finance statement will support greater clinician engagement in managing and leading the NHS by their commitment to a range of initiatives, including supporting the Enhancing Engagement in Medical Leadership project (developed by the AMRC and NHS Institute) and the publication this March of the Guide to Finance for Hospital Doctors (Audit Commission and AMRC).


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Article Information

Title: Clinicians plus finance add up to better healthcare
Author: Martine Hamilton
Article Id: 10129
Date Added: 9th Feb 2009


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