NHS providers need to carry on improving their finances and services if patients are to receive quality care in the future, says England’s new health regulator.
Analysis of NHS providers’ operational and financial performance shows the sector as a whole made £741million in efficiency savings between April and December 2015. The analysis also shows that NHS providers treated 5.12 million emergency patients between October and December 2015.
However, NHS providers are under sustained pressure from an increase in demand for care, issues with discharging medically fit patients, and high costs. As a result, many providers missed several national waiting times standards, such as the A&E performance measure, in the last 3 months of 2015. In addition, the sector as a whole reported a deficit of £2.26 billion in the 9 months to the end of December 2015.
New measures developed with providers by Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA) to help organisations get a better grip on their finances are starting to have a positive impact. Many providers are beginning to use them effectively to arrest a previous rise in the use of costly agency staff, and reduced by £31 million the sector’s overall spending on management consultants.
Jim Mackey, Chief Executive Designate of NHS Improvement, said:
This performance will be very disappointing for providers, and shows the range of difficulties they’re facing. Despite this, providers are making progress on improving their finances whilst also providing more treatment, to more patients with more complex care needs than ever before. However, further improvements will be required by the whole NHS at pace and scale to tackle the current financial and operational challenges it faces.
At NHS improvement, we intend to work with the providers to identify improvement opportunities, both recognising strong performers and supporting those who are struggling.
A report to the joint meeting of Monitor and the National Trust Development Authority boards on the performance of the NHS provider sector as of 31 December 2015 shows:
- Overall, the NHS provider sector recorded a deficit of £2.26 billion which is £622 million worse than planned
- 179 (75%) out of 240 NHS providers reported a deficit of whom 131 were acute trusts
- the provider sector spent £2.72 billion on agency and contract staff which is £1bn more than planned
- providers have estimated that delayed transfers of care have cost the sector £104m so far this year albeit other estimates put the true cost at a much higher level
- providers made £1,94 billion of savings which is £257 million less than planned
- providers have identified £452m of further financial improvement opportunities for the rest of the 2015/16 financial year
- the NHS provider sector as a whole missed the A&E waiting time target of seeing 95% patients within 4 hours between October and December 2015
- between October and December 2015, 98,000 people waited longer than 4 hours in A&E for admission due to poor bed availability elsewhere in their trust
- the size of the waiting list for routine operations reached 3.14m as providers failed the referral to treatment healthcare standard for the first time.