King’s Fund: 90% of NHS trusts heading for deficit

3 Jul 15

Nine out of ten NHS hospital trusts are expecting to be in deficit at the end of the current financial year, a poll by the King’s Fund has found.

The think-tank said the finding, from a survey of 100 NHS trust finance directors, showed that financial problems were now endemic among NHS providers and there was a need for additional funding to avoid reducing the quality of care.

As well as 89% of acute trusts forecasting a deficit – up from 21% this time last year – the poll also found nearly two-thirds of trusts (62%) were basing their financial plans on receiving additional money from government, running down their reserves, or both.

Publishing the poll, King’s Fund policy director Richard Murray urged Chancellor George Osborne to provide additional in-year funding as part of next week’s Budget.

Although the NHS was provided with an additional £2bn in 2015/16, the King’s Fund said this has been insufficient following a cut in the prices paid to hospitals through a revised NHS tariff and the transfer of more than £3.4bn from the NHS to the Better Care Fund.

Despite this, both Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens have indicated the health service will not receive any extra money this year.

Murray said the government would have to face the consequences of either poorer care or unauthorised overspends if it did not provide additional support.

“NHS leaders have signalled a stronger focus on financial control and there is still significant scope to increase productivity in the NHS, but this will not be enough to close the black hole in NHS finances,” he added.

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