The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) recently released the annual Estates Return Information Collection (ERIC) identifying the costs of providing, maintaining and servicing the NHS’s estate and including the costs of providing certain patient-focused services such as food, car parking and laundry. As well as information about costs, it also provides information on progress on operational issues such as the number of single rooms, use of available space, fire safety and the NHS’s performance on carbon reduction targets

Since 1996 HFC has provided a benchmarking service for HFC Members: although the information has varied in terms of its quality and with some slight changes in definition, HFC has been able to give Members longer term trends and enable each Member to compare itself to its peer group.

HSCIC’s report uses data collected in April – June 2015, covering 2014/15, and is the first publication by HSCIC, taking over the lead from the Department of Health. HSCIC has been validating and analysing the data until September, ensuring that the data was as complete and accurate as possible.

The return is mandatory and all 241 Trusts submitted data, of which 10 were Ambulance Trusts. ERIC focuses on secondary care premises and the relevant aspects of Ambulance Trusts. It does not cover primary care services or community care, unless those services are provided from premises owned or operated by secondary care providers. Nor does the Collection cover private or voluntary sector bodies, even where they provide NHS-funded care: this is because their estates costs are not a direct cost to the NHS.

Of the total 125 data fields, each body completes those sections and fields that are relevant. This year the data includes statistics about the costs of operating under PFI, but HSCIC stresses the need for caution as these are labelled as “provisional experimental status”. The Centre also emphasises that there are limitations on how the data can be used because over the long period of time that ERIC has been carried out there have been changes to some of the definitions, new data fields added or some out dated ones removed, and changes in the levels at which the data is collected. Further, the creation of NHS Property Services in April 2013, which owned NHS estate and leased it back to providers also means that some of the data needs to be viewed with caution.

As a result, HSCIC’s report focuses on those issues which are considered to be of most interest. See the report here: as well as the national picture, the report includes regional data. HSCIC reports that their report focuses on those data which are likely to be of most interest – they do publish the whole set of data from 2014/15 and going back to 1999/2000, available here.

Key findings include:

  • The total reported cost for the provision of all services covered by the ERIC collection in 2014-15 is £8.3 billion.
  • The proportion of the NHS estate built prior to 1948 (the year the NHS came into being) has reduced to below 20% over the past 4 years. 57% is now no more than 30 years old, compared to 47% four years ago
  • Sums invested in new buildings, improving existing buildings or purchasing new equipment fell by £421.9 million (15%) between 2013/14 and 2014/15
  • The total reported costs of providing, maintaining and servicing the NHS Estate rose in 2014/15 compared with 2013/14 by £964.6 million (13.2%). As this seemed higher than would be expected, HSCIC carried out further detailed work and found that part of the change is due to the introduction of an additional third data field – Estates and Facilities Finance costs – and that this led to more accurate reporting. Nonetheless, HSCIC advise that the figures need to be treated with caution at least until a further year’s data has been collected in order to allow a better comparison
  • The total sum required to eradicate all backlog maintenance increased between 2013/14 and 2014/15 by £296.2 million (7%). During the same period the amount invested to tackle backlog maintenance fell by £23.6 million between 2013/14 and 2014/15. Over the four year period from 2010/11 to 2014/15, the total decreased has been £80.2 million
  • The single biggest increase from 2013/14 to 2014/15 was in the High Risk category: this increased by 28%, with the lowest being in the Low Risk category (2%).

Benchmarking: How can HFC help you?

HFC offers a selection of services to help you understand and improve your performance (benchmarking) statistics. These include:

Performance Analysis Summaries

We produce Performance Analysis (Benchmarking) Summaries free of charge for each of our member organisations every year as part of our membership package.

Our summaries are produced from the annual ERIC data submitted by NHS Trusts and published annually by the Health and Social Care Information Centre. We combine this with financial data released to us by the Department of Health and use it to reinterpret the statistics into easy to understand tabular and graphical formats.

Understanding your Performance Analysis Summary

Should you need assistance understanding the Performance Analysis Summaries we provide, we would be happy to offer a half or full day’s consultancy to run through the entire report, help you understand it and highlight any areas of potential concern.

This service is particularly useful if you are new to NHS benchmarking and need a hand getting started with the process.

HFC members receive a 20% discount on our regular day rate.

The Next Step

Once you have identified potential areas for improvement, the next step is to share your findings with a small group of likeminded colleagues from Trusts of a similar size and type to your own. The concept here is simple; finding one or more partner Trusts with good or excellent performance in an area where you need to improve promotes the sharing of good practice and offers the potential to improve your performance.

HFC can facilitate such meetings and match your Trust to others preferably in or close to your region with a view to sharing experiences and improving performance in areas where it is needed.

We would normally expect this cost to be shared amongst the Trusts in attendance, making it a very cost effective for those taking part. Most of the work can be completed remotely but we recommend the group meet twice a year preferably over a 3 year period to make the process worthwhile.

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