I had the chance to eves-drop on a finance managers' conference. You know you are with FDs because there is always a whiff of Amouage Die Pour Homme. They are an elegant lot. Marc-Philippe ties and Crocket and Jones, Cavendish loafers. Jaeger and Jimmy Choo for the ladies. The tables were strewn with iPads - they had more kit on display than PC-World.
I like the NHS finance community. They are cool! They understand the NHS runs on vocation, love and team sprit but they also know it is driven by numbers. The numbers ain't good and they get it.
Back in June the NHS's very own Apollo, Jon Appleby, writing in the BMJ quoted Richard Douglas DH Director of Policy, Strategy and Finance; "... the drive to find further efficiency savings in the NHS will continue after 2015, with the total savings rising from �20bn to a possible �50bn by 2019-20".
This is a startling admission of the long term impact on public services of the global financial crisis and recession. The inescapable conclusion; five years flat line funding and an annual growth in demand of at least 4% has created an NHS, San Andreas Fault which could do irreparable damage to the service's long-term prospects.
The conference turned its attention to the role of Monitor. A presentation from a young chap with a beard. It turns out he was not from Monitor. He is on secondment to Monitor, a Trojan Horse from a firm of management consultants. I wondered if his beard was actually a clever disguise. He could come back for another term of secondment. Next time, without the beard and we will think we are getting someone else?
He told us it was Monitor's job 'to protect and promote the interests of people who use the NHS'. So; that will be ensuring hospitals are safe and clean, have adequate staff with the right nurse patient ratios and use the most modern drugs to make sure we get better quicker? Everyone I talk to is only interested in the five 'Gets'. They want to Get in, Get diagnosed, Get treated, Get out and Get on with their lives.
No! Apparently not. Our hirsute-ista produced a PowerPoint slide, in a pastel-blue colour that made my eyes water. When it comes to really protecting and promoting our interests it's everyone's job but Monitor!
Like for example the CQC, which I can say with absolute certainty from the copper-bottomed evidence of my in-box, no one trusts and are in terminal decline. There is the Carbuncle that seems to exist in a swirl of confusion and making-it-up-as-they-go-along. Pedestrian NICE is still plugging away; finding things for the NHS to do and buy which it can't afford. The Department of Health, pretending it is only interested in the annual Mandate but, adds, weekly, to the to-do-list like an old lady putting forgotten items on her shopping list. Oh, and Royal Colleges have a palaver about.
Next slide; apparently Monitor thinks the people who use the NHS are really interested in FT governance, pricing, failure and enabling. Let's hope so because that's what they do.
I drifted off into the soporific state that is induced by warm, dark conference rooms, hypnotic voices and the soft blue colours that psychologists will tell you are the 'colour of the mind' and induce serenity and soothing. Ah, this lad knows what he's doing!
Monitor was 'there for failure, licensing, interventions, financial disasters... juggling and walking on a high wire'. No, sorry; not juggling or high wire. That was the hypnotic image hirsute had conjured; the financial predicament and the NHS juggling money and walking the tightrope of disaster.
He finished speaking and I noticed my ears had started to bleed. Apparently it happens a lot whilst Monitor people are presenting; orator adduco auris crudis. There's a lot of it about...
Young beardy didn't reveal all. It took the HSJ's Ben Clover to report; Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority are planning a �300m joint contract to pay for 'failing trusts' to go through the special administration regime. They think up-to 60 Trusts could go down the plug-hole in the next four years.
I expect that would really interest the people who use the NHS.
Feel like having a rant?
Please be my guest! Use this e-address
Know something we don't - email me in confidence.