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More Patients Waiting In NHS A&E Departments

A quarterly report on the health of the foundation trust sector by the health sector regulator has found that twice as many trusts missed this target compared with the same period in 2012/13 (31 in 2013/14 compared with 13 the year before).

In the first quarter of 2013/14 38 per cent of acute foundation trusts failed to meet the target compared with 16 per cent in the first quarter of 2012/13. This suggests that trusts faced prolonged winter pressures.

The regulator is now working with NHS England and the NHS Trust Development Authority to support trusts with their plans to counter pressures this winter.

Monitor’s tracking of FTs’ financial performance shows that in total trusts are breaking even or in surplus. However, a significant number of individual trusts are in deficit – including 19 trusts who have never reported a deficit before. Forty-eight FTs were in deficit in quarter one, compared with 36 in the same period last year.

The overall deficit was £74million. This figure is mostly due to a small number of particularly financially troubled trusts.

The report from Monitor also suggests that FTs are struggling to deliver their efficiency savings. During the first quarter of 2013/14, trusts generated £57 million (or 19 per cent) less in cost savings than originally planned. Monitor’s analysis suggests that increased demand for services forced trusts to curtail planned savings on pay and supplies.

Despite the shortfall on planned cost savings, financial performance was ahead of plan with the sector reporting an overall surplus of £27 million. Revenue was 9 per cent more than expected because of increased demand for hospital services.

Jason Dorsett, Finance, Reporting and Risk Director at Monitor, said: “Our analysis of returns from foundation trusts shows that patients are still waiting too long at A&Es in a number of foundation trusts.

“Increased demand means more than ever that trusts need better and earlier planning.

“The increased demand has also prevented trusts from delivering their planned financial savings. We expect to see trusts planning now for how the increased demand will impact on their finances, so that they are not storing up trouble for the future.”

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