Commenting on the release of the latest quarterly reports on financial performance from Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority, Richard Murray, Director of Policy at The King’s Fund, said:
‘These figures are significantly worse than expected and provide yet more evidence that the NHS is heading towards a financial crisis. The only question now is whether the crunch comes during the current financial year, as now seems increasingly likely, or whether it can be deferred until next year.
‘The position in the acute sector in particular has deteriorated sharply, with around two thirds of hospitals now either already in deficit or forecasting a deficit at the end of the financial year. The number of foundation trusts in deficit is unprecedented.
‘We do not yet have a read out on the position of commissioners but it is unlikely that they will be able to offset the rapidly worsening position among trusts and foundation trusts.
‘Unless significant extra funding is found, patients will bear the cost as staff numbers are cut, waiting times rise and quality of care deteriorates. Emergency support is needed for otherwise sound organisations that are running up deficits as a result of the unprecedented pressures on their budgets.
‘A new health and social care transformation fund should also be established to meet the cost of essential changes to services. This is a big ask in the current financial climate but the money to do this cannot be found from existing NHS budgets.’