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Trusts warn of possible £1bn deficit by end of 2017/18

How would a £931m deficit for NHS trusts impact the NHS?

NHS trusts forecast a deficit of £931m by the end of 2017/18, according to figures from the regulator NHS Improvement’s quarterly report. The planned deficit at the beginning of the financial year was £496m; half way through the year it was £623m.

Director of policy for the King’s Fund think-tank Richard Murray said: ‘A deterioration of more than £300m in three months… reflects the dramatic decline in the finances of a number of individual trusts, and raises serious questions about how reasonable the financial targets were in the first place.

‘While NHS Improvement is right to point to increases in demand for services as the reason for the financial difficulties, these are not pressures that have sprung up in the past few months and they show no sign of abating. Although the Treasury has provided more money to the Department of Health and Social Care, these pressures raise the risk the Department will breach its own budget.

‘This underlines yet again that after the biggest funding squeeze in NHS history, the service does not have enough money or staff to do everything being asked of it.’

Trusts are not the only ones in trouble. At the NHS England board meeting this month, it was announced clinical commissioning groups have reported year to date overspends of £471m, affecting 95 CCGs, with 67 greater than 1% adverse to their plan. The commissioning sector is forecasting a year-end position of £351m.

A report states: ‘However, our regular monitoring of risks and mitigations indicates further net risks of £428m, most of which are highly likely to crystallise over the course of the final months of the year. Whilst this includes some temporary issues with drug price pressures, the underlying position amounts to a deficit of £400-500m.’

Further information

King’s Fund: The King’s Fund response to NHS Improvement’s quarterly performance report
NHS England: Item 8 – Consolidated month 9 2017/18 financial report 
NHS Improvement: Quarterly performance of the NHS provider sector: quarter 3 2017/18