NICVA's response to HSC Trusts' financial savings plans
NICVA acknowledges the difficult financial situation placed upon Northern Ireland’s five Health and Social Care Trusts; and the Trusts’ statutory obligation to break even.
NICVA believes it cannot make a detailed and meaningful response to each of the measures proposed, without being privy to information on the efficacy of services and the exact impact any proposed savings would have. We believe that ultimately this information and responsibility to act upon it lies within the Department of Health.
We do, however, have a number of general points to note:
- Some Trusts have explicitly mentioned procurement savings as a measure. While little detail is given on what exactly that means, it is important to remember that the commissioning of services to voluntary and community organisations save more for the health and social care sector in the long term.
- The saving plan consultations follow a much shorter time-frame than set out in the Department of Health guidance and general Trust consultation processes – six weeks compared to the standard 12. It is stressed that Trusts will implement the proposed saving plans “urgently to comply with legislative obligations”, although a timetable is not mentioned in any of the documents, beyond the term “as soon as possible”. It is therefore difficult to see what value this formal consultation will bring, or what changes will be made to the savings plans once the consultation period ends.
- The urgency to implement the saving plans also makes it difficult to see how an equality impact assessment can be undertaken adequately.
- At a Trust level, the measures within the saving plans represent a contradiction of, and an apparent roll-back on, the commitment to deliver health transformation and reform, as laid out in ‘Delivering Together’. If transformation and reform is not taken forward at a Trust level, the result will mean more people in hospitals requiring acute and emergency care which will cost more to the health service.