The NHS plan : accounting for investment and reform in twenty acute hospital trusts in England (1998–2003)
The National Health Service (NHS) Plan published in 2000 summarised Labour's commitment to modernising the NHS in England. The NHS would receive substantial additional funding bringing expenditure on health, as a share in national income, to levels comparable with a European average. The promise of secure financing from government promised to reduce uncertainty and facilitate medium term resource planning in the NHS. Extra funding, as outlined in the NHS Plan, would also be tied into capital and labour process reform(s) to ensure that investment translated into the much needed additional capacity to treat patients. During the period 1998–2003 funding for an average acute hospital has increased 50% in cash terms satisfying expectations set out in the NHS Plan. It is now an appropriate time to review progress. Using information collected for 20 acute hospitals, selected on the basis that they had started and completed PFI projects in the period 1998–2003. This paper constructs a physical and financial audit which is then used to reveal the degree to which acute hospital finances are now secure and the extent to which physical capacity to treat patients has been robustly transformed.