NHS providers warned of ‘unprecedented financial challenges’ for 2015-6

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

In a letter sent yesterday to all trusts, David Bennett, the chief executive of the health service regulator Monitor, warned that the NHS financial forecasts for 2015-15 are unsustainable and ‘simply unaffordable’ restating that greater savings must be made.

He has asked for all NHS trusts to revisit their plans, and to fill vacancies ‘only where essential,’ ensuring that ‘no stone is unturned’ when making ‘collective efforts to make the money go as far as possible.’

He further stated how: ‘ministers have been sighted on all options and are ready to support all providers to reduce their deficits in a managed way although, of course, all actions should be consistent with the responsibilities for safety and the delivery of constitutional standards.’

Overall, the letter made it very clear how the forecasted £2bn deficit for this year must be tackled in a rapid, and appropriate manner before NHS finances spiral out of control & effect standards of patient care. In order to see improvements, the 46 trusts with larger deficits have already been given new outturn figures for 2015, which should be achieved if sufficient cuts are made. In addition, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have been ordered to suspend all fines and penalties relating to referral to treatment times, and transparency over any uncommitted reserves.

Monitor has also asked non-financial trusts (FTs) to take the following steps –

• Implement fully the Agenda for Change 2013 agreement on pay progression;
• Where there is insufficient capacity & where possible, to transfer activity to another provider that has already funded but underused capacity;
• Ensure contracts with commissioners provide for adequate levels of activity, and are agreed as soon as possible.

Therefore, if all outlined steps are employed in a proportionate manner there is no reason why such deterioration in NHS finances cannot be reversed.

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