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Hunt: Sale of NHS estates could fund primary care



The health secretary has said that the Government will consider using money from the sale of NHS estates to fund primary care.

In a keynote speech to at the King’s Fund Annual Conference today, Jeremy Hunt also announced that CCGs will need to analyse how much they are spending on conditions on a cost per patient basis, to look at how to best make savings.

He outlined how the NHS was going to save up to £10bn from the NHS budget through measures including minimising prescribing errors and cutting down on the wastage of unused drugs.

Mr Hunt cited improved use of technology within the NHS as a key way of saving between £7bn and £10bn by 2020, adding that technology should not be seen as ‘costly extras’, and that it should be placed centre-stage to ‘raise standards, improve access to care and ensure the NHS is financially sustainable for the future’.

The sale of surplus land and estates would bring in at least £1.5bn which could go to providing care in the community, he said.

He added: ‘In many areas of the country the NHS owns buildings and land that’s no longer required, and care is increasingly delivered in the community or people’s homes.

‘There is huge potential for that land to be used better by NHS primary care facilities, or indeed housing and schools, whilst at the same time reducing NHS overheads, and generating cash for reinvestment in NHS service.’

He outlined ten areas in which the Government thinks money can be saved as part of the next stage of the NHS’s Five Year Forward View:

  • Reducing avoidable harm (up to £2.5billion a year);
  • Minimising prescribing errors (£551m);
  • Cutting down wastage of unused drugs (£150m);
  • Improving procurement (£1.5bn);
  • Bringing down agency staff bills (unspecified savings);
  • Selling off surplus land and estates (at least £1.5bn);
  • Ensuring visitors and migrants make ‘fair contribution’ for health services (£500m by 2017);
  • Reducing administration costs (£300m in 2015/16);
  • Reducing spend on management consultants (£500m a year);
  • Making better use of IT to free up time for front line staff (unspecified savings).

The sale of surplus land and estates would bring in at least £1.5bn which could go to providing care in the community, he said.

He added: ‘In many areas of the country the NHS owns buildings and land that’s no longer required, and care is increasingly delivered in the community or people’s homes.

‘There is huge potential for that land to be used better by NHS primary care facilities, or indeed housing and schools, whilst at the same time reducing NHS overheads, and generating cash for reinvestment in NHS service.’

As part of co-commissioning, CCGs would be instructed by NHS England to look into how much the care of conditions were costing on a per patient basis.

He said: ‘Today I can announce, as part of a step towards becoming accountable care organisations, all CCGs will be asked by NHS England, with support from HSCIC, to collect and analyse expenditure on a per patient basis.

‘CCGs will then, as co-commissioners of primary and specialist care with NHS England, and co-commissioners of social care, and potentially public health with local authorities, be able to pinpoint more clearly where there is the greatest  potential to improve patient outcomes, by reducing avoidable costs through more innovative use of preventative measures.’

The health secretary’s focus on IT come in the wake of the publication of the NHS National Information Board’s report, Personalised Health & Care 2020, which outlines the Government’s vision for future NHS IT systems.

The report lays out how patients will have full digital access to all their records through NHS Choices by 2018, and how the CQC will regulate the quality of record-keeping from April 2016.

In line with his previous pledge to have achieved a paperless NHS by 2018, Mr Hunt is expected to hold up shared electronic health records as a ‘revolution in prevention’, citing their use as a way of enabling personalised, responsive and joined-up care.

 

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