‘Watershed year’ for NHS as King’s Fund figures reveal scale of crisis

The coming year will mark a ‘watershed’ for the NHS as its financial problems risk leading to deteriorating care, the King’s Fund has warned in its latest quarterly monitoring report.

A survey by the think tank shows that 65% of NHS trust finance directors and 54% of CCG finance leads felt that patient care in their area had worsened in the past year, the worst result since the King’s Fund began tracking this question in 2012.

Only 12% of CCG leaders and 2% of finance directors felt their care had improved.

John Appleby, chief economist at the King’s Fund, said: “Our latest survey confirms what we already knew, that 2015-16 was a very difficult year for the NHS, reflected in huge deficits and worsening performance. 2016-17 is a watershed year for the NHS in which it has been tasked with eradicating deficits and improving performance.

“Despite significant additional funding and a huge effort to contain deficits, it is clear that this is going to be a Herculean challenge.”

The report also confirms the latest figures from the NHS in showing that its performance hit an all-time low in 2015-16.

The amount of patients waiting more than four hours in A&E was at 8%, the highest amount since 2003-04. The number of patients waiting for hospital treatment reached 3.7 million, a 17% increase from last year and the highest number since 2007. Delays in hospitals increased by 15% to 5,700 patients, the highest amount since 2008.

Stephen Dalton, acting chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “Today’s report outlines the alarming reality that ongoing financial strain on the NHS is impacting our members’ efforts to deliver high quality care. Demand for care continues to rise, putting further pressure on an already strained health service.

“Fundamental change in how we provide care is critically needed if our members are to be successful in meeting the twin challenges of providing high quality services while balancing the books. Hospitals must be allowed to focus on treating those that need to be there. We also need to make sure that people receive the care where and when they need it most – often this will be in their own homes or within their community.”

Providers fear deficit will get worse

The report also shows that 67% of providers ended the year in deficit, including 86% of acute trusts. Despite the government’s commitment of £1.8bn towards reducing the deficit, providers expected it to get worse.

Nearly 20% of CCGs and over 50% of trusts expect to end 2016-17 in deficit.

Commenting on the latest Quarterly Monitoring Report, Saffron Cordery, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, said the latest report is another stark reminder of the extent of the challenge facing our NHS.

“The King’s Fund paints a bleak picture of a service struggling to manage in the face of unprecedented financial constraints and record numbers of patients requiring treatment,” she said.

“Eighty per cent of NHS providers are in deficit. Hospital, mental health, community and ambulance services have made heroic efforts to cope during this time but it is unrealistic to expect them to keep teetering on the edge of a precipice.”

Janet Davies, CEO and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing added that what is most worrying about the report is that trusts are continuing to get further into debt which impacts on patient care.

She said that without urgent investment it is hard to imagine this situation improving.

“The warning signs of financial pressures and worsening conditions should not be ignored any longer,” noted Davies. “Staff are working above and beyond to keep services going but this cannot continue forever. The NHS needs more investment and more staff.”

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an NHE columnist? If so, click here.


Bryn Sage, Chief Executive, Inhealthcare   19/05/2016 at 14:35

Your article fails to mention how technology could dramatically improve both patient experience and hospital finances. Our company, Inhealthcare, worked with County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust, one of the largest integrated acute and community service providers in England, to deliver a warfarin home monitoring service for 2,500 patients. The service has empowered patients, reduced disruption in their lives and increased the effectiveness of their treatment. It has also cut unnecessary hospital appointments and increased capacity within the NHS, freeing up valuable staff time. If we can get 10 per cent of the population to use technology to manage their conditions remotely, we could save tens of millions of appointments a year.

Add your comment

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest news

View all News


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 >

editor's comment

26/06/2020Adapting and Innovating

Matt Roberts, National Health Executive Editorial Lead. NHE May/June 2020 Edition We’ve been through so much as a health sector and a society in recent months with coronavirus and nothing can take away from the loss and difficulties that we’ve faced but it vital we also don’t disregard the amazing efforts we’ve witnessed. Staff have gone above and beyond, whole hospitals and trusts have flexed virtually at will to meet demand and pressures and we’ve... read more >

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 >


Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

24/10/2019Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

Today, speaking at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) annual... more >

the scalpel's daily blog

Covid-19 can signal a new deal with the public on health

28/08/2020Covid-19 can signal a new deal with the public on health

Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive, NHS Employers & Deputy Chief Executive, NHS Confederation The common enemy of coronavirus united the public side by side wi... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

healthcare events

events calendar


September 2020

mon tue wed thu fri sat sun
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11

featured articles

View all News