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Croydon Health Services exits Financial Special Measures
20 February 2017

Croydon Health Services NHS Trust has been taken out of Financial Special Measures after just seven months, NHS Improvement has announced today (20 February 2017).

Croydon Health Services (CHS) was one of five acute trusts across the country to be placed in Financial Special Measures in July 2016.  The intervention by NHS Improvement meant that each Trust was given intense scrutiny and tougher targets in order to turnaround rising financial deficits. 

NHS Improvement challenged CHS to reduce its deficit by £7m more than planned in 2016/17, whilst achieving over £14m of agreed efficiency savings throughout the year.  At the same time, CHS was to maintain its quality of care and meet national standards for planned operations and cancer care, along with agreed trajectories for emergency care.

Today’s announcement from NHS Improvement said the Trust had made “significant improvements in its financial position” and was on course for achieving an agreed deficit control total of £32.8m (2016/17).

John Goulston, Chief Executive of Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, said:

“To exit financial special measures in just seven months is to the credit of our staff who, along with the Trust Board, have worked tirelessly to find ways to increase efficiency and put forward ideas to cut costs without composing care.

“Our recovery plan was carefully developed, with all savings schemes checked by our senior clinicians to ensure that we do not compromise patient care or safety.  We are on track to reduce the Trust’s long-standing deficit by almost a quarter this year (2016/17) – but we know we need to keep a tight grip on money if we are to continue to make improvements.”

"Turning point"

Mike Bell, Chairman of Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, said:

“This will reset the Trust to make us clinically and financial sustainable so we can better meet the health needs of people in Croydon, now and in the long-term.  Our staff at all levels have invested time, energy and sheer determination to start to turn our finances around.  This would not have been possible without the contribution and leadership of John and the executive team.

“This is a turning point for the Trust, and we must continue to focus on our ongoing quality improvements whilst making every penny count.” 

NHS improvement has set the Trust tough financial targets to reduce its deficit further over the next two years. 

John Goulston adds:

“We must cut our financial deficit by almost half in 2017/18, and by a further £9m the year after (2018/19).  This will not be easy and will require everyone in the Trust to find ways to do more within the resources we have.

“Some of this will require a change in how we work – we have an advanced electronic patient record system but we still churn through an estimated 17.5 million sheets of paper every year.  Becoming ‘paper-lite’ could save £1m a year.

“Others will require a change in the way we work, including joining-up with our partners in primary care, the local authority, mental health and the voluntary sector to care for the growing number of people in our borough.”

Balancing the cost of treatment with rising demand from a growing and ageing population is a challenge across the NHS, but is particularly difficult in Croydon where funding for health and care services has historically been very tight.  Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group also faces significant financial challenges, and was itself placed in financial special measures last year.  

CHS has focused improving the quality of its care, at the same time as taking control of its finances.  However, many necessary quality improvements have not had sufficient cost efficiencies or funding.  Despite some success, the Trust has found it difficult to recruit where there is limited availability of trained clinicians and greater competition, especially in London.  As a result, the Trust spent £24m on temporary staff in 2015/16 in order to keep services running.

John Goulston said:

“Our greatest asset will always be our staff – our workforce is also where we spend the majority of our budget.  To continue our financial recovery we must work harder to limit our use of expensive temporary staff through continued efforts to recruit, such as the 30 new nurses and midwives who joined the Trust last month.  Recruitment is a challenge across the NHS, but the more we do to raise our profile and celebrate the innovative services we have in Croydon, such as the Edgecombe Unit or community Rapid Access team, the more we will become a place health professionals want to come and work.”

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