£10m investment to revolutionise NHS business services

A £10 million investment by NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) has led to 48 NHS organisations signing contracts for a range of finance, procurement and employment services.

NHS SBS now provides at least one business service to over 100 different NHS providers and arm’s length bodies across the country, with 100 per cent of England’s NHS commissioning organisations using the groups finance and accounting service.

The Future Services Programme, launched last year, aims to reduce NHS reliance on time-consuming, expensive, inconsistent, and often error-prone, paper processes, by developing new innovative ways of working that befit a modern healthcare system.

Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust needed to modernise its finance, accounting and procurement processes and used NHS SBS to replace its paper-based back office with an innovative systems-led way of working. This allowed for greater control of expenditure, faster and more accurate financial processes, and more transparency.

Roy Clarke, director of finance at the trust, explained: “To achieve the back office efficiency savings set out by Lord Carter and ensure robust systems at a time of significant change for the trust – as we move to a brand new hospital – modernising our business functions through NHS SBS, particularly with its experience of working with so many other parts of the NHS, was seen as a key element to underpin our wider trust strategy.

“Our business services play an important role in supporting our clinicians to deliver world-class patient care, by providing them with the best possible platform that ensures they have the right tools and information at the right time. With NHS SBS we’ve seen a leap in the maturity of our systems in a very short space of time.”

Additionally, the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust both used NHS SBS to eliminate printing costs and provide finance and accounting services that could help their respective mergers.

Caroline Walker, director of finance at North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, said: “At Peterborough and Stamford we had been using NHS SBS for years and were happy with the service. I therefore didn’t for one minute consider a backwards step of reverting to doing things in-house. Hinchingbrooke was using a mix of in-house and a different outsource provider. But it was apparent fairly quickly that the best option would be to bring the new Trust onto NHS SBS systems.

“NHS SBS made strong recommendations to us early on in the process and its experience in this area was something we relied on. There was no need to reinvent the wheel. The NHS SBS team really handed it to me on a plate when it came to what we needed for a successful implementation.”

Commenting on the news, David Morris, managing director at NHS SBS, said: “Modernising the back office to ensure the NHS gets best value from the way it spends its finances must be a priority to alleviate rising costs resulting from increased frontline pressures. Exploiting national economies of scale is more important than ever, but shared services must be about more than off-the-shelf outsourcing.

“Our Future Services Programme has been focused on actively listening to our partner NHS organisations, finding new ways to work to make their lives easier, whilst designing future services around their needs. The investment we are making into emerging technologies is on behalf of the entire health service, directly supporting transformation and helping to shape how the NHS can get more from its spending.

“The recent growth in the number of new customers is a clear indication that NHS trusts can see the value we are offering, and that our collaborative way of working will help them respond to both local and national priorities, supporting a sustainable healthcare system for future generations.”

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