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
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
United States President Barack Obama, right, uses actor Keegan-Michael Key from Key & Peele to play the part of 'Luther, President Obama's anger translator'
video
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + + uncapped commission + benefits: SThree: Did you ...

SThree: Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + benefits + uncapped commission: SThree: Did you kn...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate / Junior Web Developer

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions