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The latest quarterly monitoring report finds that NHS trusts are forecasting an end-of-year net deficit of around £2.3 billion. The estimate, based on survey responses from 83 trusts, comes as NHS national bodies are imposing stringent financial controls in an effort to reduce the deficit to £1.8 billion by the end of the financial year. This underlines the risk that the Department of Health will breach parliamentary protocol by overspending its budget.
The regular survey of NHS finance directors carried out for the report also highlights increasing concerns about quality of care as the financial crisis deepens. For the first time since the survey began in 2011, more than half of trust finance directors (53 per cent) said that quality of care in their local area has worsened in the past year. Nearly as many (48 per cent) clinical commissioning group finance leads agreed.
Key findings from this quarter’s survey include:
- more than two thirds of trusts (67 per cent) and 9 out of 10 (89 per cent) acute hospitals are forecasting a deficit at the end of 2015/16
- more than half of trusts (53 per cent) are concerned that they will not be able to meet nationally-imposed caps on their agency staff spending, while a fifth (22 per cent) say the caps may impact on their ability to recruit the staff they need to provide safe care
- nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of trusts are reliant on extra financial support from the Department of Health or drawing down their reserves
- more than half of trust finance directors (53 per cent) are concerned about meeting productivity targets – the highest level of concern at this time of year since our survey began
- CCGs are in a better financial position, although nearly one-fifth (18 per cent) are forecasting a deficit and nearly a third (29 per cent) are concerned about meeting their productivity targets.
About this quarter's report
How is the NHS performing? February 2016 is the eighteenth of The King's Fund's regular quarterly monitoring reports. Find out more about the work at www.kingsfund.org.uk/qmrproject