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NHS news in brief

Our weekly round-up of NHS and healthcare stories

Bad management causes financial deficits, says Audit Commission
Financial problems at NHS hospitals and Primary Care Trusts can be attributed to ineffective management and inadequate board members, according to an Audit Commission report.

The study, titled Learning the Lessons from Financial Failure in the NHS, cited a lack of robust-budget setting, a lack of engagement of clinicians in organisations' core management processes and inadequate attention to the day-to-day running of organisations while senior management is focused on a major project as some of the common reasons for financial problems.

However, Gill Morgan, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, representing NHS managers, said it was ìall too easy to blame NHS managers for the current deficitsî.

ìWe must take care to look at the whole picture and not make NHS managers the scapegoat for financial problems facing a small minority of trusts,î she said. ìDeficits are in part the result of short-term pressures on the service including national targets and workforce reforms. Longer-term issues, such as major structural problems, exposed by changes to accountancy rules, are also to blame.î

ìWide divergencesî in PCT progress
There are ìwide divergencesî in the progress Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) are making to achieve universal coverage by the end of this year, according to the National Health Intelligence Service (NHIS), the NHS library resource.

The NHIS found that while some PCTs were able to provide full details of the composition of their commissioning clusters and the specialist programmes they are undertaking, others appeared to be just starting the process.

NHIS has analysed data from over 180 PCTs, and the results are available on a subscription basis at www.nhis.info.

A&E affected by cash crisis
NHS financial problems are negatively impacting on accident and emergency units, according to the British Association for Emergency Medicine (BAEM).

The association said the services had been saddled with a spate of cuts, which was putting patients at risk by stranding them miles from casualty departments.

ìA&E is an easy target as it is relatively expensive and the running costs are hard to predict because you do not know how many patients need to be treated,î BAEM president, Martin Shalley told the BBC.

30th September 2008

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