Department Of Health Outlines Local Spending Vision

Details of how the NHS in England will spend locally what the Chancellor has called “its biggest cash increase ever” of £8bn have been published by the Department of Health (DH).

During 2007/08 there will be no new national targets and primary care trusts (PCTs) will be responsible for spending 76% of the extra resources allocated to primary care.

This will involve conducting preparatory work and spending money on issues such as reaching the 18-week target, bringing care closer to home, MRSA, end-of-life care and mental health and social care.

The DH is also encouraging PCTs to form partnerships with local authorities to take advantage of the savings which can be delivered by new technology. For example, a telehealth project, which is based on sensors that transmit a patient’s vital signs and movements to their clinician, is currently being piloted in Kent, where the council and local PCTs have pledged £1.3m in 2007 to develop the scheme further.

The fact that clinicians can follow up worrying readings and head off problems before they develop could reduce visits by patients to the surgery, unnecessary hospital admissions and home visits.

“Local plans show that the NHS, right across the country, will be driving forward this year with hundreds of initiatives focused on benefits for the local community and NHS patients,” said Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt.

“A lot of people like to knock the NHS and say all the money has gone on deficits. It hasn’t. The NHS is now back in balance and delivering improvements in health outcomes, the lowest waits on record, as well as providing a level of care that ten years ago was only offered to those who could afford it.”

The report cites several examples where spending on new equipment will lead to improved services and safer healthcare setting. Plymouth Hospital NHS Trust will spend £50,000 on rapid testing equipment to provide test results for MRSA and other infections within two to three hours of admission as opposed to two to three days.

The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust is using its new financial autonomy to invest £2m in a ready-made modular operating theatre, while £600,000 will be spent on a musculoskeletal assessment and treatment (MAT) service in Bristol to help patients in pain to be seen more quickly and avoid surgery wherever possible.

According to the DH, the £8bn investment will see an extra 400,000 new patients examined and an extra 390,000 operations take place in 2007/08.