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Hospital doctors must learn about money to drive better treatment and NHS efficiency

9th July 2009

Hospital doctors must learn the basics of NHS finance to help drive greater efficiency and better outcomes for patients, according to the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the Audit Commission.

The organisations have joined together to launch a new Guide to Finance for Hospital Doctors, today (9 July). It is a practical manual that aims to help hospital doctors get to grips with the way the money works in the health service. The guide is expected to be especially useful to medical students and doctors in the early stages of their careers.

The authors of the guide say that through the greater involvement of clinicians in financial matters the NHS can achieve better value for money, more efficient and effective hospitals and better outcomes for patients.

Steve Bundred, Chief Executive of the Audit Commission, said:

"We all know that most NHS doctors do a fantastic job but we cannot ignore the fact that the NHS is a £100 billion organisation and it is the doctors who dictate where the cash goes. We don't need doctors to be accountants, but I've no doubt we can drive greater efficiency to benefit patients if doctors become more familiar with how the money works."

Professor Dame Carol Black, Chairman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said:

"It is essential that doctors, who are responsible for spending money when caring for their patients, understand and engage with the way that money is spent. This really useful guide shows how the quality of care can be improved when doctors and finance specialists work together with a common aim and a united approach."

The new guide follows a joint statement about clinicians and finance from the Commission and the Academy, along with the Royal College of Nursing, the NHS Institute for Improvement and Innovation, the Healthcare Financial Management Association and the Department of Health.

The statement reiterates why the organisations believe in the importance of clinical engagement in financial aspects of patient care. It was also endorsed by Lord Darzi, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, who said: "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."

The new guide will help doctors engage with NHS finance specialists and it contains case studies from Gloucestershire, London, Bolton and Plymouth that illustrate how better understanding of the money can help transform services. It also contains a useful glossary explaining the language of NHS finance.

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