The King's Fund response to NHS Improvement’s finance figures

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Responding to NHS Improvement’s report on the performance of NHS providers in the first quarter of the year, Richard Murray, Director of Policy at The King’s Fund, said:

‘Today’s report shows that new investment and actions taken to tackle overspending have reduced deficits among NHS providers in the first quarter of the year. This is welcome, but it would be a mistake to suggest that the financial pressures which have engulfed the NHS have eased.

‘While overall NHS trusts met their financial targets in the first quarter, our new survey of NHS finance directors shows only a third are confident this will be the case by the end of the year. It also shows a worrying decline in confidence among commissioners, with twice as many CCGs forecasting end-of-year deficits than at this time last year.

‘Demand for services is rising rapidly, waiting times are continuing to worsen and NHS leaders have been charged with delivering significant changes to services. Extra investment and the hard work of staff mean that NHS organisations are still just about coping for the time being, but the service is reaching a critical point.

‘The government must be honest with the public about what the NHS can achieve with the resources it has been given. It is not credible to argue that it can continue to meet rising demand for services, maintain standards of care and balance its books within its current budget.’

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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.