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Reaction to the growing deficits in the NHS

Figures published by Monitor show NHS Trusts in England have reported a total deficit of £822m in 2014-15, compared with £115m the previous year. Here’s the key reaction:

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair

“These figures are extremely worrying and show the extent of the dire financial pressure many hospitals are under.

“Successive governments have fragmented the NHS in England, valuing penny pinching and individual parts of the NHS running a surplus, over the delivery of effective, properly funded, joined-up care.

“The prices paid to hospitals for work done are being cut year on year to drive ‘efficiency savings’, but the effect is that hospitals are being pushed into deficit. This is no way to run a health service that needs to meet rising demand from an ageing population with complex care needs and we call on government to move away from the current approach to one of investment in health.”

Richard Murray, director of policy at The King’s Fund

“The figures underline the huge pressures facing acute trusts which have collectively overspent by £1 billion. This is largely due to increasing demand for services and decisions by hospitals to recruit more nurses in order to maintain quality of care, but it also reflects the squeeze on their incomes as a result of cuts in the prices paid for treatment.

“Attention will now turn to the current financial year, with signs suggesting that the position is continuing to deteriorate. Our most recent survey of NHS finance directors indicated that two-thirds expect to overspend this year.

“Plugging the growing black hole in NHS finances must now be an urgent priority for the government. There is a real prospect of deficits snowballing and, unless the government finds extra money, an accelerating decline in NHS performance and a deterioration in patient care.”

Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation

“This report provides a clear indication of the pressures faced by the NHS today, with the Foundation Trust (FT) sector posting a year-end deficit for the first time. The financial issues within providers are well-documented and these figures further highlight the impact from an FT perspective.

“Sustainability in the NHS is a challenge that must be met by the whole system and we will need to see strong leadership over the next five years to meet it.

“Following the debate around the NHS during the general election, we welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment made earlier this week to find at least £8 billion extra investment in the NHS by 2019/20. A clear signal from the Government that it will increase funding each and every year of this Parliament will allow the NHS to focus on the tough efficiency savings required and achieve the vision set out in the Five Year Forward View.

“The figures demonstrate that the NHS has a fragile settlement and that this will remain over the coming years. We will need to count on transformation funding delivered up-front and action to prevent social care from being cut, in order to prevent NHS organisations from being knocked off course.

“We now need to change the way care is delivered in many parts of the NHS, with new models of care, backed by strong support from national bodies and politicians over this full Parliament.”

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