NHS provider deficit rises nearly 7% year-on-year

4 Dec 18

The NHS provider sector’s deficit went up 6.8% between July and September 2017 and this year, official figures have revealed.

The sector reported a deficit of £1.23bn at the end of September this year, which was up £78m from the same period before, according to figures from NHS Improvement.  The planned deficit for the July to September quarter was £1.14bn.

“This position is mainly due to a small proportion of providers whose position has significantly deteriorated: we expect their boards to take firm action to achieve their plans,” the overview of quarter 2 2018-19, released on Thursday last week, also showed.

Admissions to A&E also reached a record high of 6.18 million people, according to the data. This figure was 4.3% higher and an average of 940 more admissions each day compared to the same quarter last year.

“Demand for emergency admissions through an A&E department continues to break records and remains high ahead of winter,” the overview said.

It added: “In preparation for winter, providers are working hard to cope with the expected surge in demand. While the NHS will benefit from a second year of enhanced, national winter planning, no-one underestimates the challenges this will present for hard-pressed frontline staff.”

Chief executive of NHS Providers Chris Hopson said: “The reality is that, however hard trusts work, they cannot currently keep up with the growth in demand for care.

“Yet again, the most recent NHS England performance data recorded the highest level of emergency admissions of patients in A&E since records began and this is putting severe pressure on beds and services across health and care even before the busy winter period.”

The quarterly data showed that high A&E demand meant that people had to wait longer for planned treatment with the number of people waiting more than a year for treatment at the end of September was 3,156 compared to 1,778.

Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst at the King’s Fund, said: “As we get closer to the publication of the long-term plan, it is becoming increasingly clear that the new funding will not be enough to address all the pressures facing the service – ‘resetting’ performance back to desirable levels is highly ambitious.

“It is therefore vital that sufficient funding is dedicated in the plan for developing new models of care, building on the work currently taking place in integrated care systems up and down the country.”

Theresa May announced an extra £20bn annual funding for the NHS in June, ahead of the service’s 70th anniversary. The government is due to produce a 10-year plan for how this money will be spend soon.

The deficit increased 51% - by 814m to £1.23bn in September – between the first three months of the 2018-19 financial year and the second three months.

The health regulator said this rise was largely due to the increase in demand, which is expected every year in the summer months.

A spokesperson for NHS Improvement said that “costs for trusts will increase over summer ordinarily due to an increase in A&E admissions”.

The total planned end of year deficit fell from £519m at the end of the last quarter to £439m this quarter due to further financial savings identified by trusts, according to NHS Improvement.

This week, NHS Improvement announced new guidance for trusts looking to set up wholly owned subsidiary companies.

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