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Monday 24th October 2016

NHS finance directors should focus on quality

8th September 2008

Helen Bevan, director of service transformation at the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, considers the role of finance leaders

ChequeSigning1Qin the Health Service Journal.

In my career as an NHS improvement leader I interact with different types of staff and often work with health service finance leaders.

Proof exists that if finance directors are made into "quality champions" then "quality improvement results" will be achieved across the health service. The reason for this is that when we consider how "cost and quality" interact in another light, "magic happens".

There are three stages to healthcare. The first is what is needed to provide the service, ("staff, supplies and equipment"). The second "is the process (evaluating, diagnosing, treating, communicating etc"). The third is what is provided ("quality, safety, results and costs").

When finance leaders in the health service consider how they can reduce costs, in general they concentrate on stage one and cut back on what comes into the NHS.

It could be possible to "achieve maybe 10 times the leverage" by looking at the next stage of the process, and working alongside clinical heads to get rid of what is squandered within the NHS to ensure patients are given the best standards of care.

Finance leaders need to focus their concentration on areas they might perhaps not be as familiar with and appreciate how the service can be improved "from a clinical perspective".

Finance directors should fulfil their roles in the future according to new specifications, which include acting as: "a champion of quality improvement in partnership with other strategic leaders" and "operating at the interface between clinical processes and management of resources".

"Cost and quality" need to be thought about as existing in tandem and we should think about monitoring "quality as a balancing measure to every cost reduction initiative".


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