The report confirmed that NHS foundation trusts hired an additional 24,000 members of staff last year, 3 times what was planned, in order to upgrade the quality of services to patients.
The majority of new staff were nurses, healthcare assistants and others supporting frontline services.
Overall, the 147 NHS foundation trusts (which make-up two-thirds of all NHS trusts) met national performance standards for the majority of operational targets tracked by Monitor over the course of 2013/14, and finished the year in financial surplus. However, the surplus was one-third the size of the previous year, and in a sign of the increased pressures upon services, more trusts failed to meet waiting times targets in the final quarter (1 January 2014 to 31 March 2014).
Monitor’s board report on the performance of the NHS foundation trust sector in 2013/14 found:
- the NHS foundation trust sector made a surplus of £133 million (unaudited) compared to £491 million in 2012/13
- 40 trusts ended the year in deficit, which is more than planned (16), and almost double the number last year (21)
- the combined deficit of the 40 (£307 million ) was higher than expected (£190 million), although 22 organisations already subject to regulatory action or investigation by Monitor account for 70% of the overall deficit
- staff numbers increased by 24,123, which was 15,889 more than planned and a 4.1% increase on the previous year
- in the last quarter, 26 trusts breached the target of seeing 85% of cancer patients referred by a GP within 62 days, compared to 16 in the same period last year; NHS foundation trusts attributed the failure to an increase in referrals following national awareness campaigns
- in the last quarter, the sector as a whole breached the target to treat 90% of admitted patients within 18 weeks of referral
- in the last quarter, the sector as a whole breached the A&E waiting time target, but the 34 trusts which failed to meet the standard was an improvement on the 47 trusts a year ago
- during the year 27 trusts (19% of the sector) were subject to enforcement action because of governance or financial concerns
Jason Dorsett, Finance and Reporting Director at Monitor, said:
The majority of patients attending foundation trusts are receiving quality services in very difficult financial circumstances.
Times are tough and hard decisions will have to be made to ensure patients continue to get the services they need at an affordable cost to the taxpayer.
However, many trusts are taking positive steps such as increasing frontline staff to tackle the challenges they are facing.