The King's Fund responds to today's NHS financial performance figures

Commenting on today's report from NHS regulators, Richard Murray, Director of Policy at The King's Fund, said:

'Today's figures show that the NHS is in the grip of an unprecedented financial meltdown.

'Deficits on this scale cannot be attributed to mismanagement or inefficiency. Quite simply, it is no longer possible for the vast majority of NHS providers to maintain standards of care and also balance their budgets. 

'This takes the NHS into uncharted territory, with providers now forecasting an end-of-year deficit of £2.2 billion. Although some of this can be clawed back by raiding capital funds and cutting central budgets, it is increasingly difficult to see how the Department of Health can stay within its spending limits this year.

‘We are now halfway through a decade that will see the largest sustained fall in NHS spending as a share of GDP since 1951. Services are under huge pressure, with the latest data showing that the A&E target has not been met for a year and delayed discharges are at record levels. While there is still scope to improve productivity, this requires upfront investment to release savings and will take time to deliver results.

'If the Chancellor needed a wake-up call ahead of next week's Spending Review, this is it. The scale of the deficits provides yet more evidence that the additional funding promised by the government is needed sooner rather than later. If this is not forthcoming, the government should be honest with the public that the outcome will be an accelerating decline in standards of care.'

Notes to editors: 

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The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and health care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible care is available to all.