A business plan is the best prescription

Watching the current crop of medical soap operas, it would be easy to run away with the idea that hospitals have always been subject to the discipline of the market and not places for tending the sick whatever the cost.

In fact, though, such an approach was anathema to the National Health Service until as recently as the mid-Eighties. As with the rest of the public sector, the NHS only became familiar with business planning once the privatisation of the likes of British Telecom and British Gas had paved the way for a shake-up that - among other things - has entailed the separation of the purchase of services from their provision.

One effect of that has been the sudden growth in business planning, identified by Tom Jones and Malcolm Prowle in the latest edition of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants' guide to NHS finance.

Health authorities need to concentrate their strategic planning on identifying needs and deciding priorities, the authors write in "Health Service Finance - An Introduction", while NHS trusts need to prepare strategies on the basis that they are business units which must provide services that meet purchaser needs, attract income and be financially viable in order to survive.

As a result, they need to prepare business plans - which, the authors helpfully explain, are "longer and shorter-term plans which are business oriented".

Under current NHS rules, such an activity is a requirement. But as Mr Jones, a director of the healthcare companies MJM Healthcare Solutions and Mental Health Strategies, and Mr Prowle, a KPMG management consultant specialising in the sector, explain, if this was the only reason that trusts prepared plans it would be "unlikely that there would be much commitment to the process at local level and the quality of the business plans would suffer accordingly".

Raising finance has assumed special significance in the new world in which health service managers find themselves. The guide makes clear it that business plans must underpin the content of the case for undertaking particular capital projects.

"Just a clinical case is not enough," it says. "One impact of the NHS reforms has been the need for providers to consider whether, in financial terms, they can afford particular levels of capital investment and the extent it will add value"

Roger Trapp

`Health Service Finance - An Introduction' (fourth edition), by Tom Jones and Malcolm Prowle, is available from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (0171-396 5922) at pounds 19.50.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Software Developer i...

AER Teachers: Graduate Primary TA - West London - Autumn

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: The school is seeking gra...

AER Teachers: Graduate Secondary TA - West London

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: The school is seeking gra...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Surrey - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Croy...

SPONSORED FEATURES

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones