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Clinicians plus finance add up to better healthcare, say medics

9 February 2009

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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.

In an unprecedented joint statement, released on Friday (6 February 2009), 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, said 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 efficiently supported by IT, and for their involvement to be wider than simply being given a budget to manage.

There is also an expectation that SHAs, PCTs, 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.”

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.”

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 frontline of delivering on that objective.”

Click here to read the joint statement

“No from what the proposals are for my local hospital” – Barbara White, Essex