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Our latest survey of finance directors shows a deepening pessimism about the current financial state of health organisations and worries about the coming financial year. Slightly more than 4 out of 10 trust finance directors forecast an overspend by the end of this year – the highest proportion since our survey began in March 2011 – and just over three-quarters say they are fairly or very concerned about staying within budget by the end of the next financial year.
The parlous state of hospital finances is underlined by the finding that more than 60 per cent of trusts are relying on financial support from the Department of Health or, in the case of some foundation trusts, planning to draw down their reserves. Despite this, over three-quarters reported that their organisation is planning to increase the number of permanent nursing staff it employs over the next six months, as hospitals continue to prioritise patient care above balancing the books.
Not surprisingly, given the increasing pressures on frontline staff, trust finance directors once again identified staff morale as their top concern, alongside A&E waiting times.
About this quarter's report
How is the NHS performing? January 2015 is the fourteenth of The King's Fund's regular quarterly monitoring reports. Find out more about the work at www.kingsfund.org.uk/qmrproject