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Trusts may face financial penalties for over-recruiting staff

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More than 60 NHS trusts have been targeted for over recruiting staff since 2014 and will be financially penalised by regulator NHS Improvement, Nursing Times’ sister title HSJ can reveal.

In total 63 providers have been identified as having £356m of “excess growth” on their pay bill with a significant amount of this expected to be added to ”control total” targets for 2016-17, the minimum level of financial performance each provider must deliver.

NHS Improvement said this was necessary to “dial back” pay bill growth in the NHS. 

One chief executive told HSJ the method used to calculate pay growth ignored the “historical baseline” of poor staffing and would lead to cuts to frontline nurses, which they said could impact on patient care.

”This review process will result in a ‘dial back’ of excess cost growth where this is possible, including reductions in agency staff, resulting in reduced levels of deficit”

NHS Improvement

In a document detailing its plans to rein in spending, NHS Improvement said its work to develop new safe staffing guidelines - following the suspension of the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence’s staffing guidance work last year - would include “new metrics that would enable “more appropriate benchmarking and assessment of required staffing levels”.

Among the trusts named for excess pay growth are Salford Royal Foundation Trust, which could potentially face £2.76m of cuts.

University Hospitals of Leicester Trust faces the largest potential target with £21m identified as a saving from its pay bill. Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust has the second largest potential cuts of £15.6m.

Barts Health Trust faces a £14.7m figure, Imperial College Healthcare Trust has been given a £14.6m total while Tameside Hospital Foundation Trust has been told it might have to find £14.4m of savings.

The measures come as NHS Improvement laid out a series of interventions yesterday to tackle financial problems at struggling organisations. This included the creation of a new regime of “financial special measures” for trusts and clinical commissioning groups.

In a document detailing the “financial reset” plans, NHS Improvement said it would work with providers to determine the final amount of paybill savings they would have to make.

It said: “Analysis of 2015-16 cost trends and 2016-17 plans indicates significant growth in excess of inflation and pension effects in 63 providers totalling £356m on a part-year basis. NHS Improvement is working to support these providers to identify by the end of July how much of the planned growth can be eliminated and how far they can reverse the often unplanned and unmanaged cost growth that occurred in 2015-16…

“Some of the reported growth will doubtless reflect structural factors and genuinely unavoidable investments, including in the context of CQC inspection findings, and the analysis is based on plan submissions before final control totals were agreed with some providers.

”However, this review process will result in a ‘dial back’ of excess cost growth where this is possible, including reductions in agency staff, resulting in reduced levels of deficit across the provider sector.”



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