Following the events of the last eighteen months, it’s more important than ever for the NHS to have the support needed to maintain its exceptional patient care. This year, the prospect of winter pressures combined with the continued complexities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic means that the health service is placed under even more strain than usual.
With a record 5.7m people currently awaiting hospital treatment and the waiting list increasing by around 100,000 people per month , the NHS is already battling to wade through the mounting backlog in treatments.
The Royal College of Physicians recently issued a warning that one in three NHS doctors believes that the health service is not prepared for the challenges ahead.
Low staff morale and a lack of funds, combined with capital spend continuing to be tightly managed to help save capital and repay the debts incurred due to the pandemic, means that the NHS has a challenging winter ahead.
Despite public purse strings being tightened in the wake of the pandemic, it remains crucial for the NHS to have access to updated equipment, particularly when ageing equipment that is no longer fit for purpose needs to be replaced.
The replacement or upgrade of medical equipment allows Trusts up and down the country to stay at the forefront of medical technology and helps ensure the best possible outcomes for their patients and standard of care.
Capital investment is so often reserved for more urgent projects, such as structural repairs, meaning that Trusts are often relying on ageing equipment, or have limited access to more modern technology.
It is time for the public sector to seriously consider more innovative approaches if they are to effectively support public services…
Innovative finance solutions
NHS procurement has always been complex, and at SAF we work with a number of suppliers of medical equipment to understand their end-users’ procurement challenges and the financial requirements needed for them to have access to much-needed equipment.
Gaining enough budget to fund new projects that are not deemed “essential” is complex, with budget often being reassigned to address more pressing or urgent projects.
Alternative finance solutions could go a long way in helping to alleviate NHS winter pressures by giving healthcare providers access to more readily accessible updated equipment without the need for significant upfront capital investment.
Moreover, to help tackle the backlog of more than 5m patients currently awaiting treatments, sought-after additional capacity could also be made available via a structured finance agreement.
We have seen how modular construction methods have come to the forefront during the pandemic thanks to their attractive delivery timescales. We’ve worked with several modular suppliers within the healthcare sector and have developed bespoke finance solutions to encompass the entire cost of the project, meaning the Trust in question can start benefitting from their new facilities as soon as possible.
The benefits of flexible finance
Providing the NHS with alternative methods of procurement eliminates the need for significant capital spend while also ensuring that the health service has the best and most up to date medical equipment at their disposal.
The benefits of this include:
1. Immediate acquisition of new equipment outside of outright capital purchase and budget allocation complexities
2. Shifting expenditure from capital to revenue budget, allowing Trusts to retain their capital budget for more urgent, immediate repair works and projects
3. Payment deferral until the new NHS financial year – we understand the difficulties placed on the NHS, which is why we offer the option to defer payment to coincide with the new financial year
4. Flexible repayment schedules spread over periods of up to ten years
The way that the NHS operates has transformed radically over the past eighteen months, and it’s now time for public spending to follow suit. We must welcome alternative ways of funding much-needed equipment, particularly during a time when our NHS is already under significant pressure.