Audit Commission reports increase in financial difficulties at NHS Trusts

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

The Audit Commission has referred 19 NHS Trusts to the Secretary of State for Health following concerns about their financial health.  This demonstrates a three-fold increase as compared to the previous year.  A total of 98 NHS Trusts (excluding NHS Foundation Trusts) were reviewed for the period of 2013/14.

The audits concluded that overall NHS Trusts improved the timeliness and quality of their financial reporting for 2013/14.  However, auditors have reported an increasing level of concern about the financial resilience of NHS Trusts.  Trusts that have been referred to the Secretary of State for Health will be subject to increased scrutiny from the authorities.

Marcine Waterman, Controller of Audit stated “This year auditors are reporting concerns about the financial resilience of a third of NHS trusts compared with a quarter last year. This level of reporting is worrying and reflects the increasing risks to the financial sustainability of individual NHS trusts, as they continue to face sizeable financial pressures due to a rising demand for services and the necessary focus on quality of care, whilst balancing the need for continued cost savings.”

A spokesman from the Department of Health said the government recognised the challenges for NHS Trusts and that is why the current parliament has protected the budget.  They added “It is essential that trust chief executives have a tight financial grip and ensure they live within their means.”

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