Mackey hails NHS success in slashing deficit by two-thirds

16 Jun 17

NHS providers have succeeded in cutting their deficit by two-thirds over the financial year just ended, however the service missed its target by more than £200m, official figures have shown.

The deficit reduced from £2.4bn in 2015-16 to £791m in 2016-17. NHS Improvement chief executive Jim Mackey hailed the achievement as doing the “impossible”.

NHS Improvement said the improved deficit position was driven by system-wide changes £of over £3.1bn (3.7%) with over £700m saved on locum and agency use in the year.

Today’s figures were released in the NHS Improvement’s quarterly performance report on NHS providers.

Mackey stated: “This year, the NHS has achieved the impossible.  No healthcare system in the developed world has managed to achieve this level of efficiency.”

The turnaround was made against the backdrop of rising demand and a significant increase in delayed transfers of care – providers experienced a 24.5% increase in delayed days in 2016/17 compared to 2015/16.

In his comments, Mackey noted that “sheer hard work” helped the service arrive at a much healthier position without losing focus on patient safety and outcomes.

He added: “People should feel justly proud of what they’ve achieved this year, and go into next year knowing that, whilst it will be hard, the challenge certainly is not impossible.”

NHS Improvement has also announced that work with providers previously in special measures because of financial concerns has helped generate over £100m of savings, while the organisation’s Financial Improvement Programme has identified around another £100m worth of savings.

NHS providers are now expected to reduce the current planned deficit of around £500m next year.

Commenting on the figures, Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, said: “The deficit of £791m means that NHS trust have missed their target of £580m. This is a large improvement on last year’s £2.45bn, ending a trend of rising deficits that began in 2013/14. However the service still faces a continued challenge over the next two years following the end of frontloaded investment.

“Less than half of NHS trusts were in deficit last year compared to two thirds the year before. This is a big improvement, but with 44% of trusts in deficit there are clearly still substantial pressures across the system and there is more work to be done.”

 She praised the “tireless efforts” of NHS staff but highlighted that the service was going through the most austere decade since its inception.


Jim Mackey is speaking at the CIPFA conference next month

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