Downloading PDF

Navigating new waters: The NHS’s response to financial strain and industrial action

Navigating new waters: The NHS’s response to financial strain and industrial action

Home » Blog » Navigating new waters: The NHS’s response to financial strain and industrial action

Nicola Ainscough, Head of System Delivery, MLCSU

The recent communication from NHS England, referencing the letter titled ‘Addressing the significant financial challenges created by industrial action in 2023/24’, brings to the forefront the significant challenges that the NHS faces. This blog aims to dissect these challenges and ponder on the potential responses that healthcare providers might need to consider in these tumultuous times.

The year 2023/24 has been a period of unprecedented strain for the NHS, in part due to industrial action. This has not only led to a financial burden estimated at around £1 billion but also impacted patient care, particularly in elective and urgent services.

Challenges highlighted by the letter

  • Achieving financial balance: The foremost challenge is attaining a financial equilibrium. The industrial action has led to unexpected expenditures, complicating the already intricate financial landscape of the NHS.
  • Prioritising patient safety and care: Healthcare providers are under pressure to prioritise patient safety, emergency services, and urgent care. This entails a careful balancing act, ensuring that critical services remain unhampered while managing limited resources.
  • Rapid planning and response: The letter calls for a swift, two-week planning exercise. This rapid response is crucial but challenging, given the complexities involved in healthcare planning and delivery.
  • Managing elective care amidst reduced targets: With a reduction in elective activity targets, healthcare providers must strategise effectively to manage long patient waits, especially for urgent and cancer care, within the new constraints.
  • Strategies for healthcare providers:
    • Efficiency and innovation: Embracing efficiency in operations and innovative patient care models could be key. This might include leveraging digital health technologies to streamline processes and improve patient engagement.
    • Collaborative efforts: The role of Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) and trusts will be pivotal. Collaborative planning and resource sharing could help mitigate the impact of financial and operational constraints.
    • Flexibility and adaptability: Providers must be prepared to adapt to changing scenarios, including the possibility of continued strikes. This includes having contingency plans and being able to pivot quickly.

The journey ahead for the NHS is fraught with challenges, yet it’s filled with opportunities for growth and innovation. Healthcare providers are at a critical juncture where strategic planning, innovative solutions, and collaborative efforts are more important than ever. Balancing financial limitations with the commitment to excellent patient care will test the resilience and adaptability of our healthcare system. However, with the collective effort of all stakeholders, we can navigate these turbulent waters and continue to uphold the high standards of care that the NHS is known for.

We strongly encourage healthcare professionals, policymakers, and interested parties to engage in a meaningful dialogue. Sharing experiences and strategies will be crucial in shaping an effective response to these challenges. For those seeking further information on how we can help navigate this, you can find more information on our clinical redesign and provider collaboration page.

A blog by Nicola Ainscough, Head of System Delivery at MLCSU.

View all

News and views

News

New podcast: Revolutionising urgent care in Northern Ireland

Recorded live at the NHS ConfedExpo, join host Richard Caddy in an engaging dialogue with Kelly Bishop, Assistant…

News

Empowering healthcare workers in population health management

Our Health Economics Unit (HEU), in a successful collaboration with the Midlands Decision Support Network, has marked a…

News

Data-driven personalised health videos and their role in supporting healthcare services

The Digital Innovation Unit (DIU), along with their commercial partner Citizen Communications, are hosting an event on the 31…

View all

How we can help health systems

Developing health systems

Acting as an independent and trusted partner within the system to facilitate working across stakeholders and integrate elements of the provider system…

Learn more about Developing health systems
Developing health systems

Workforce resilience and transformation

Supporting systems to build a sustainable and integrated workforce, transforming systems, organisations and the workforce experience to improve resilience.

Learn more about Workforce resilience and transformation
Workforce resilience and transformation

Communications and engagement

Supporting ICSs with approaches to design and deliver effective communication, engagement and behavioural insights as a key enabler for system change and…

Learn more about Communications and engagement
Communications and engagement

Digitally enabled transformation and IT

Digitising care and partnering with systems for the transformation of digitally enabled service delivery (and other supporting processes) across vision, planning and…

Learn more about Digitally enabled transformation and IT
Digitally enabled transformation and IT

PHM analytics and decision support

Applying intelligence-led understanding of the health of the population to support the redesign of care and improve patient and financial outcomes across…

Learn more about PHM analytics and decision support
PHM analytics and decision support

Place and primary care transformation

Supporting providers to work together at a place and neighbourhood level to manage common resources, integrate community teams, improve health and reduce…

Learn more about Place and primary care transformation
Place and primary care transformation

Clinical redesign and provider collaboration

Redesigning how health and care works across England - placing people at the centre of their own health and care and utilising…

Learn more about Clinical redesign and provider collaboration
Clinical redesign and provider collaboration

Personalised healthcare commissioning services

Providing end-to-end funded care services, including patients as active partners in identifying their healthcare needs and then commissioning care to meet these.…

Learn more about Personalised healthcare commissioning services
Personalised healthcare commissioning services

Business enabling services

Delivering a wide range of support functions through transactional services, business partnering and transformation that drives efficiencies and releases value and time…

Learn more about Business enabling services
Business enabling services
MLCSU

Accessibility Tools