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
News
One Direction's Zayn Malik gazes at a bouquet of flowers in the 'Night Changes' music video
people
News
people
News
'Free the Nipple' film screening after party with We Are The XX, New York, America - 04 Feb 2014
news
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant - IT Channel - Graduate

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a Value-Added I...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Guru Careers: Junior Web Developer

£18 - 22k (DOE) + Benefits & Stock Options: Guru Careers: A Junior Developer /...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn