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03.11.17

Half of NHS finance directors report downturn in patient care quality

Patient care has worsened over the past year, according to 51% of trust finance directors, the King’s Fund Quarterly Monitoring Report has revealed.

The report indicates that in the first three months of 2017-18 had an aggregate net deficit of £253m, despite NHS providers plans to make £3.7bn of efficiency savings in the same year.

Even with these plans, only 28% of trust finance directors were confident of achieving this year's savings plan.

The NHS’s staffing crisis will do little to help to reduce spending, with 1,300 fewer full-time equivalent nurses and health visitors than last year meaning that trusts will need to pay for costly agency staff to meet the increasing demand over winter.

Responding to the report, Phillipa Hentsch, head of analysis at NHS Providers, said: “It is worrying that over half of finance directors feel that patient care has got worse in their area, particularly as we head into the busy winter period.

“The report shows that trusts will once again have to rely on one-off savings this year, and the £1.8bn sustainability and transformation funding.

“As highlighted in our recent report ‘Recovering provider deficits: has it worked and at what cost?’ this sustainability funding is absolutely essential in the continuing effort to reduce the deficit.”

In September, 89.7% of patients in A&E were seen within four hours, falling short of the target of 95%.

Hentsch continued: “The money is tied to trusts meeting financial and performance targets, so it is a real concern that most finance directors feel they won’t be able to meet the A&E target and more than one in three are not confident they will meet their financial control total this year. 

“As these findings make clear, it’s hard to overstate the financial pressures trust face. The forthcoming budget is a chance to bridge that gap between what we ask the NHS to deliver and the funding available.”

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