Hospital Dr News

NHS providers financial troubles continue as Long-Term Plan approaches

NHS providers will be starting next year – when the Long-Term Plan is introduced – in financial trouble, new figures suggest.

The quarterly performance of the NHS provider sector, between July and September 2018, reveals that hospitals admitted more emergency patients and waiting times for planned treatment increased.

The sector was £1.23 billion in deficit at the end of the quarter.

Trusts have identified further savings they can make and are planning to end the year £80 million better than they were at the start of the financial year. At the of the year, the sector forecasts a deficit of £558 million.

Nuffield Trust Senior Policy Analyst Sally Gainsbury said: “As NHS leaders prepare to publish their Long-Term Plan for the health service, these figures underline just how serious the financial and staffing problems facing NHS organisations are.

“The projected deficit of £558m reported today includes £2.45bn of emergency funding, as well as some very optimistic assumptions about extra efficiencies to be made. So despite making some impressive savings so far this year, NHS providers are struggling to reduce the underlying gap between their regular, predictable income and their day-to-day running costs.

“We calculate this underlying deficit will be around £4.2bn by the end of the financial year.”

There were 940 more emergency admissions per day compared to the same quarter last year.

A total of 6.18 million people visited A&E during the quarter — 252,360 (4.3%) more than the same period last year.

High A&E demand meant that people had to wait longer for planned treatment. The number of people waiting more than a year for treatment at the end of September was 3,156, compared to 1,778 for the same period last year.

The number of staff vacancies across NHS trusts fell to 102,821 at the end of September, from 107,463 at the end of June.

Siva Anandaciva, Chief Analyst at The King’s Fund, said: “We have become used to key targets being missed but the increase in the number of patients forced to experience long waits for care is a significant concern.

“The number of people stuck on hospital waiting lists for more than a year or spending more than 12 hours in A&E is worryingly high, and far worse than this time last year. Tackling long waits for hospital treatment must be a top priority for NHS England’s clinical review of waiting times.

“As we get closer to the publication of the long-term plan, it is becoming increasingly clear that the new funding will not be enough to address all the pressures facing the service – ‘resetting’ performance back to desirable levels is highly ambitious. It is therefore vital that sufficient funding is dedicated in the plan for developing new models of care, building on the work currently taking place in integrated care systems up and down the country.”

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