The King's Fund response to NHS Improvement’s end-of-year financial figures for NHS trusts

Responding to NHS Improvement’s end-of-year financial figures for NHS trusts, Richard Murray, Director of Policy at The King's Fund, said:

'These figures are unprecedented - despite additional funding and a huge effort to reduce deficits, record numbers of NHS trusts overspent their budgets last year and the overall deficit is about three times higher than in 2014/15.

'Overspending on this scale is not down to mismanagement or inefficiency in individual trusts - it shows a health system buckling under huge financial and operational pressures. At the same time, performance against key targets is deteriorating and concerns about quality of care are increasingly widespread. The challenge facing the NHS is not limited to hospitals, general practice is also in crisis as they try to keep up with demand.

'We will have to wait until the summer to see whether this record NHS trust overspend causes the Department of Health to exceed its spending limit for last year, a serious breach of parliamentary protocol. It also has worrying implications for NHS trusts this financial year, as they will be starting 2016/17 with a collective deficit of around £1 billion more than planned, eating into the funding needed to maintain services and provide patient care.'

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The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and 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.