The NHS provider sector has reported a £886m year-to-date deficit, with the sector forecasting a year-end deficit of £873m, according to NHS Improvement.
Releasing its latest operational and financial performance figures on Monday, the regulator said providers are experiencing “one of the most challenging winters on record” with data showing 5.34m A&E attendances in this quarter alone – a 4.3 per cent increase from the same quarter last year.
Figures also point to a drop in A&E performance and performance against the referral to treatment (RTT) target.
On the finance front, they also show that 66 per cent of acute trusts are forecasting a year-end deficit, 60 per cent of ambulance trusts, 30 per cent of mental health trusts, 29 per cent of specialist trusts and 17 per cent of community trusts.
Providers were able to deliver £2bn of savings, including £441m from income generation, which is an extra £101m than the same period last year. But it was £207m short of plans.
NHS Confederation chief executive, Niall Dickson, said the figures were a ‘tragedy’. “The NHS had made huge strides to treat and care for patients promptly but the latest figures show a further deterioration – and behind those figures lie real suffering for patients and exhausted staff.
“The danger now is that efforts to transform services that government has rightly been championing are derailed because of all the effort that has to go into keeping the service going and trying to balance the books.”
He added that additional funding for social care is an ‘immediate priority’. “This is a system that is letting down more than one million elderly people who are not receiving the support they need – the result is overstretched hospitals having to cope with too many admissions and too many patients unable to be discharged.
“There is a similar story in mental health - which has yet to see the benefit from warm words of support from national leaders."
Operational performance at a glance
- A&E performance dropped to 86.74% of patients seen within four hours, compared to 90.65% in the same quarter last year and against a 95% target for the sector
- In total, there were 5.34m A&E attendances in this quarter and this is a 4.3% increase from the same quarter last year but a 1.8% decrease from quarter two of this year
- Number of patients attending a major A&E requiring admitted care reached c.1.06m, a rise of 3.5% compared to the same quarter last year
- There was 798,946 patients waiting for a diagnostic test at the end of this quarter, a decrease of 4.7% from the last quarter, however the waiting list has increased by 3.6% compared to last year
- Performance against RTT target was 89.41%, which represents lowest performance since providers started to underperform against the target (92%) in December 2015
- Cancer waiting times performances was 82.2%, against a national target of 85%, which was an improvement on the same quarter last year but well below STF trajectory of 85.8%
- Ambulance services continue to fail the Red 1, Red 2 and 19 minutes response-time targets with performance of 67.13%, 61.57% and 89.38% respectively
Financial performance at a glance
- The provider sector reported a year-to-date deficit of £886 million with the sector currently forecasting a year-end deficit of £873 million
- In total, 135 trusts have reported a deficit by end of Q3 and 121 forecast one by the end of the financial year
- 66% of acutes are forecasting a year-end deficit, 60% of ambulance trusts, 30% of mental health trusts, 29% of specialist trusts and 17% of community trusts
- In terms of regions, the percentage of trusts forecasting a deficit by region is 85% in North, 56% in Midlands/East, 53% in London and 47% in South
- 213 out of 228 trusts (93%) have accepted a control total and have either fully or partially met the agreed funding criteria, resulting in £994 million STF being allocated
- The trajectory on agency spending has been reduced, so that providers are expecting a £771m reduction in agency spending compared to last year
- Providers delivered £2bn of savings, including £441m from income generation, which is an extra £101m than the same period last year and £207m short of plans
- 75% (£1.5 billion) of savings to date were recurrent, which is behind the planned level of 92%, and this has been compensated by delivering £336m extra savings through non-recurrent CIPs
- Providers have spent £1.76bn on capital schemes, which is £1.1bn below plan and level of spending still to be incurred in Q4 is £1.5bn, which represents 45% of the full year spend
- 56 trusts (25%) are forecasted to exceed their control total year-end position, which will enable them to access unallocated and unearned elements of STF as a reward.
Find out more
Access NHS Improvement's Quarterly report on the performance of the NHS provider sector.