How to Deliver In-Year Financial Savings in the NHS

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5 minutes
Written by
Andrew Moore

In the race to fix financial challenges in the UK health sector, alignment and urgency from everyone in the system is critical. ICBs are now engaging external consultancies, there's a unique opportunity to address these financial challenges head-on.

The key to success lies in a unified approach where individual organisations, collaboratives and systems work together under one cohesive strategy. This not only streamlines efforts but also ensures that every action taken is aligned towards achieving common financial goals.

The stakes are high, and the pressure is immense. Each week that passes without decisive action equates to lost opportunities and increased financial strain. The entire system is under stress, juggling multiple priorities and demands.

It is imperative that every move made in the recovery process exemplifies efficiency and precision and pace, urgency must be the by-word. By implementing best practices and leveraging experienced professionals, the path to financial stability can be navigated more effectively.

Here’s what we’ve learned from the frontline:

Unify Your Strategy

Ensure individual organisations, collaboratives and systems work under one recovery strategy with a unified reporting format. This alignment is crucial for coherent and efficient progress. Align/combine/rationalise your Programme Management Offices (PMOs).

  • Why it matters: Disjointed strategies and reporting formats create confusion, inefficiencies and slow down progress. A unified approach ensures that all efforts are aligned towards common goals. A unified strategy is also the. best basis for building support from all the stakeholders who will need to support the savings programmes.
  • Actionable tip: Identify the Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) for the system. Conduct a strategic alignment workshop with all key stakeholders to develop a single recovery strategy. Engage an experienced facilitator to run the workshop and don’t expect your SRO to do it. Implement a standardised reporting format across all teams to streamline communication and reporting.

Streamline Financial Reporting

Accurate financial, risk and progress reporting is non-negotiable. Recovery leaders must ensure projects are properly formulated to avoid double or treble counting the impact of recovery initiatives. Clarity in your financials is a cornerstone of successful recovery.

  • Why it matters: Inaccurate financial and progress reporting can lead to misinformed decisions, wasted resources and unmet financial targets. Clarity, accuracy and complete transparency are essential for tracking progress and making informed adjustments.
  • Actionable tip: Identify your preferred reporting platform and supply the necessary resources to help all stakeholders to comply with any new reporting requirements. Cross reference your financial reporting with your programme reporting to ensure that they are in sync. Regularly challenge financial reports to identify and correct any discrepancies such as double or treble counting.

Start the Work NOW

Many Financial Recovery Plans (FRPs) include unidentified or unactioned targets and are under-resourced or have had a sluggish start. Kickstart these projects immediately to avoid falling behind.

  • Why it matters: Delays in starting projects can lead to missed financial targets and increased pressure on remaining resources. Immediate action is needed to stay on track.
  • Actionable tip: Prioritise and fast-track the initiation of FRPs that are currently under-resourced or delayed. Allocate temporary resources to jumpstart these projects and establish quick wins to build momentum.

Recognise The Urgency

Every week delay is equivalent to 2% of the year. If you begin needing to improve £100m, every week that you delay means finding an additional £2m and means that the opening run-rate baseline will be higher next year. Time is money, quite literally.

  • Why it matters: Every week lost equates to additional financial strain and pressure on your recovery plan. Time is a critical resource, and its effective management can make a significant difference in meeting targets. If you wait another week to initiate a project after your next Executive Meeting then you’ve just added another more to the total that you will need to find elsewhere.
  • Actionable tip: Implement a weekly review process to track progress and address any delays immediately. Communicate the urgency to all teams and set short-term milestones to maintain a sense of immediacy and accountability. Appoint an experienced Programme Director who has successfully delivered turnaround programmes before.

Efficiency and Experience Matter

All health systems are under immense stress, juggling multiple priorities. The recovery process must exemplify efficiency and precision. Avoid wasted effort and inefficiency by using experienced professionals who will deliver change instead of just talk about it.

  • Why it matters: The system cannot afford inefficiencies or mistakes. Experienced professionals ensure high-quality execution and avoid the pitfalls of inexperience. You don’t need a new vision and strategy – you need someone to roll their sleeves up and start delivering today, matching your sense of urgency to deliver.
  • Actionable tip: Recruit or allocate experienced professionals to key roles within the recovery process. Provide training and support to ensure all team members are equipped to perform efficiently and effectively.

By aligning your PMOs, tightening financial reporting, starting work promptly, and ensuring the entire system is on the same page, you can navigate this challenging period effectively. Clear communication and a unified strategy are the foundations upon which successful financial recovery is built. When all stakeholders are aligned, it minimises misunderstandings and duplicative efforts, allowing for a focused approach that maximises resource utilisation and impact.

Efficiency and urgency are your best allies in this endeavour. Every decision made and action taken should be geared towards immediate and measurable improvements. The clock is ticking, and the financial health of the public health sector depends on swift, decisive actions.

Leveraging experienced professionals and advanced analytics will enable you to implement solutions that are both effective and sustainable. Embrace this opportunity to lead with precision and drive your organisation towards a stable and prosperous future.

Ready to take the next step?

As a leading management consultancy specialising in financial turnaround in the UK public health sector, we have successfully navigated these challenges many times before. Let us help you achieve your financial goals and ensure the stability of your organisation.

Contact us today to learn how our expertise can make a difference. Let your problem become our problem too.

Achieve Lasting Change

We're ready to work with you to create a customised plan to deliver sustainable change for your system.


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