There are three types of organisation: those who make things hap-
pen; those who watch things happen; those who wonder what hap-
The process of planning is essential in all health and care organisations and departments and is as relevant to health and care professionals as to managers. In health systems the world over there is a need to become cost conscious to ensure that increasing health needs and expectations can be met within the limitation of available resources. Resources are becoming scarce (e.g. funding and skilled people) or expensive (e.g. buildings and equipment), whilst an increasing and ageing population is creating greater healthcare need. As expectations within affluent populations also increase there will be a greater need to make choices about the use of funding and between different healthcare treatments. Governments are continuously making choices on public expenditure, for example, between health and education. There may also come a time in affluent societies when individual citizens will need to make personal choices on how they spend disposable income; for instance, choosing between buying a new car or a joint replacement for a member of the family.
Two critical skills that health managers must develop are business planning and budget management. Service priorities must be set to ensure the effective and efficient allocation of resources to meet the most important health needs of populations. A business planning approach builds on the identification of service needs and objectives, planning how best to allocate available resources to achieve those objectives. Health managers can work within agreed business plans if they are able to understand, monitor and manage costs using a budget as a framework for so doing.
This topic is also essential reading for health clinicians and professionals who play a role in managing a service or team. Anybody who has a responsibility for resources including people, equipment and buildings as well as money, should work in partnership with managers and accountants to contribute to the planning and shaping of the resources required for the future delivery of healthcare services.
As with all professions, resource and business planning has built its own terminology and language. This gives a false impression that it is an