NHS will struggle with the ‘spending squeeze’

Friday July 15th, 2011

Many NHS hospitals will struggle to deliver productivity improvements essential to maintaining quality and avoiding significant cuts to services, according to the latest quarterly monitoring report on NHS performance published by The King’s Fund.

The majority of finance directors from NHS providers questioned for this quarter’s report revealed that their trusts face productivity targets for 2011/12 of 6% or more – well above the level required across the NHS as a whole to deliver the £20bn in efficiency savings needed by 2015. Of these, more than half said they are ‘uncertain’ of meeting their targets.

The key findings obtained from our panel of NHS finance directors are: Of the 29 finance directors who responded, 27 said their trust has a productivity target of 4% or more, with 13 of these having targets of 6% or more – all of them from provider organisations; around half the panel are uncertain of meeting their targets, while eight of the 13 panellists with targets of 6 per cent or more are uncertain of meeting them

26 of the 29 finance directors expect their trust to break even or be in surplus at the end of the year, with three expecting to be in deficit; the majority are confident that measures taken to meet their targets will not harm clinical quality, although around a quarter are uncertain or concerned about this.

These findings highlight the pressure on NHS providers in particular as the health system struggles to deliver significant improvements in productivity. The findings also highlight concern about the prospects for NHS finances as the spending squeeze begins to bite, with three panellists expecting their trust to be in deficit at the end of the financial year.

To view to the full report click here.

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