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As the NHS begins a new financial year and we move from one parliament to another, it is clear from the performance on key headline targets and standards and from our latest survey of finance directors that the NHS will face huge challenges this year.
It now seems certain that hospitals and other NHS providers in England overspent their budgets in 2014/15 by more than £800 million. This is despite nearly £900 million being provided by the Treasury or switched from capital budgets to plug the growing black hole in NHS finances. According to the regular survey undertaken for the report, almost 60 per cent of trust finance directors said that they were dependent on additional financial support or had drawn down their reserves in 2014/15.
The financial outlook for 2015/16 is even gloomier, with two-thirds of hospitals concerned about staying within budget over the next year. Although commissioners are more optimistic, 40 per cent of finance leads from clinical commissioning groups are also concerned about whether they will be able to balance the books in 2015/16.
About this quarter's report
How is the NHS performing? April 2015 is the fifteenth of The King's Fund's regular quarterly monitoring reports. Find out more about the work at www.kingsfund.org.uk/qmrproject