latest health care news

19.12.18

Blanket winter bans could happen again as DHSC accounts mask ‘underlying’ NHS deficit locally

Hospitals could face another winter of blanket operation cancellations and MPs have warned that “urgent action” is needed in the long-term plan as the finances of NHS providers are even worse than the reported statistics.

A report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said MPs were concerned about the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC’s) preparations for winter, and refused to rule out a repeat of the cancellation of non-urgent operations that occurred last winter.

The report said that despite the DHSC’s accounts for 2017-18 suggesting an improvement in fortunes, this masks the underlying deficits at a local level and the continued use of short-term fixes.

The figures state that 101 of 234 trusts ended the financial year in deficit and NHS Providers reported a total shortfall of almost £1bn, but the deficit figures are actually reportedly far worse and had to be largely offset by a surplus of £970m within NHS England’s finances.

NHS England achieved this surplus despite 75 of the 207 CCGs reporting an overspend this year – a whopping £213m collectively. MPs also said reports that a fifth of hospital trusts and health boards have missed A&E, cancer treatment and waiting-time targets “hammer home the concerns we hold” about local financial pressures.

The DHSC intends to ensure the finances are balanced at an individual CCG and provider level as part of its long-term plan for the NHS, but “this is some way off,” according to the committee.

Its report also criticised the department’s failure to assess the risk Brexit poses to the supply of medical equipment which “risks patient care,” and the “lack of a clear plan for recruiting staff after Brexit risks exacerbating existing staff shortages.”

Other issues highlighted by the PAC include failures by the department to forecast its exposure to clinical negligence costs and its lack of a robust fraud estimate.

As per the PAC’s recommendations, the DHSC must write to the committee by the end of January 2019 to outline how it will address these challenges.

Responding to the report, NHS Providers deputy CEO Saffron Cordery said: “Going into winter the pressures on the health and care system remain crystal clear. The NHS is entering its busiest time of year with record levels of demand for emergency care, severe workforce shortages and as this report shows a very difficult financial position.”

She argued that greater assurances from DHSC would be welcome to tackle the “daunting uncertainty” of Brexit, and that the report “rightly identifies the mismatch between the provider sector deficits offset against a surplus in NHS England’s budget.”

Image credit - George Clerk

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

featured articles

View all News

last word

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad, president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), sits down with National Health Executive as part of our Last Word Q&A series. Would you talk us throu more > more last word articles >

health service focus

View all News

comment

NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

23/09/2019NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

Reason to celebrate as NHS says watching rugby can be good for your mental ... more >
Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >

interviews

Mike Farrar, Swim England - Last Word

07/12/2019Mike Farrar, Swim England - Last Word

Mike Farrar Chairperson of Swim England Would you talk us through... more >

the scalpel's daily blog

Transforming services: We need a left shift not a left drift

16/01/2020Transforming services: We need a left shift not a left drift

Dean Royles, strategic workforce advisor at Skills for Health and co-author of ‘An Introduction to Human Resource Management,’ discusses the need to move the treat... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital exemplars who were revealed at the same show 12 months earlier.  Jeremy Hunt also stated that by the end of 2018 – the 70th birthday... read more >