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'NHS planning to delay spending to balance books'

New figures suggest the NHS in England is now planning to delay or cancel spending in half of local areas this year to balance the books.

New figures suggest the NHS in England is now planning to delay or cancel spending in half of local areas this year to balance the books

The King's Fund's quarterly monitoring report found that 50% of clinical commissioning group (CCG) finance leads said achieving this year's financial forecast was likely to depend on delaying or cancelling spending.

Wake-up call

Commenting on the figures, RCN general secretary Janet Davies said they would be a 'wake up call' to politicians ahead of the general election on 8 June.

'It cannot be fair that patients in half of England will wait longer for certain operations many in pain and discomfort as the NHS

New figures suggest the NHS in England is now planning to delay or cancel spending in half of local areas this year to balance the books


According to a King's Fund report, delaying or cancelling spending will help
achieve this year's financial forecast. Picture: iStock

The King's Fund's quarterly monitoring report found that 50% of clinical commissioning group (CCG) finance leads said achieving this year's financial forecast was likely to depend on delaying or cancelling spending.

Wake-up call

Commenting on the figures, RCN general secretary Janet Davies said they would be a 'wake up call' to politicians ahead of the general election on 8 June.

'It cannot be fair that patients in half of England will wait longer for certain operations – many in pain and discomfort – as the NHS cuts cost,' she added.

Some patients won’t get treatment at all as the postcode lottery in care is entrenched.

'Promises to increase mental health spending risk being broken while hospitals feel forced to sell land just to stay afloat.

'It has been a political decision not to give the NHS the money it needs in recent years and it goes some way to explaining the 40,000 unfilled nurse jobs in the NHS in England. In the final seven days before people head to the polls, every party must commit to the hard cash the NHS needs for treatment and safe staffing.'

Finance improvement

The survey of finance directors suggests that NHS finances improved over the last quarter of 2016/17, with 54% trust finance directors expecting to have ended the year in surplus.

But while progress has been made in reducing spending on agency staff, the report suggests that the underlying financial position remains gloomy, with many trusts having relied on one-off actions such as land sales and payments from the Sustainability and Transformation Fund to improve their position.

The report details the results of an online survey of NHS trust finance directors carried out between 13 April and 4 May.

Of the 256 NHS trust finance directors contacted, 84 responded.

In addition, 160 CCG finance leads were contacted, and 42 responded. Between them they covered 50 CCGs.

'Direct impact'

King's Fund director of policy Richard Murray said: 'With many CCGs planning to delay or cancel spending, local NHS leaders will be forced to make tough decisions about priorities and this is likely to have a direct impact on what care patients can access and how long they have to wait for it.

'This reinforces the underlying reality that demand for services is continuing to outstrip the rate at which the NHS budget is growing.'


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